Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hillary: 103 women lying until proven otherwise

A member of the mainstream press finally forced Hillary Clinton to answer why one of her biggest donors are top executives of a company accused of serial sexual harassment. And the answer is one you would expect from the stereotype of a fat Republican sheriff running for re-election in rural Alabama, not the first viable female candidate for President.

Here's what the campaign told Lisa Myers of NBC News.

Sen. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, told NBC News in a statement that the senator decided to keep the funds because the lawsuit is "ongoing" and because none of the sexual harassment allegations has been proven in court. "With regard to the pending harassment suit, as a general matter, the campaign assesses findings of fact in deciding whether to return contributions," Wolfson said.

Everyone in America has the presumption of innocence, of course, but I don't recall that being the standard when Hillary's people demanded that Barack Obama return all money generated by fundraiser Tony Rezko, who is indicted but not convicted of federal corruption charges.

And how bad are the allegations against International Profit Associates and its convicted criminal founder, John Burgess? The federal government claims that 103 women employees—known in Hillaryspeak as "working women"—were victimized for years of a brazen pattern of sexual harassment including "sexual assaults," "degrading anti-female language" and "obscene suggestions." IPA denies the allegations in a case pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

"This is by far, hands down, the worst case I've ever experienced," said Diane Smason, one of the EEOC lawyers handling the lawsuit. "Every woman there experienced sex harassment, they were part of a hostile work environment of sex harassment. And this occurred from the top down."

And the obvious point the story raises:

Some political analysts say it is surprising that the first viable female candidate for president would not be more sensitive to allegations of sexual harassment.

"The fact that Hillary Clinton at this point is holding onto money from a contributor who has been charged with sexual harassment can only be perceived as insensitive to women's issues and women," says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Senior Scholar at the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California. "I don't think that fits the definition of feminism, at least the last time I looked."

I've written extensively about IPA and its sexual harassment and fraud problems here.

For all Hillary's whining about MSNBC's alleged bias against the Clintons, the network did Hillary a major favor by only publishing this blockbuster story on the web and not airing it on TV. Clearly, by assigning Myers, one its star reporters, to the story, the network intended to air it prominently. But my guess is that since Hillary's fortunes are tanking, the network backed off.

Publishing it on the web was analogous to a giant airliner dumping fuel before the big crash.

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