Is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) presidential campaign already finished? The lawmaker, who has positioned herself as a champion for the #MeToo movement, is being accused of covering up the same type of behavior she has blasted in the past.
If the allegations are true, it would be just the latest in a series of stories involving sexual harassment in the offices of Democratic politicians, and it could jeopardize the senator’s chances for winning her party’s nomination. Her poll numbers are already low, and this story could easily be the final nail in her campaign’s coffin.
Gillibrand Drops Ball on #MeToo Incident
Recently, a female aide working with Gillibrand’s office stepped down from her position after her allegations of sexual harassment were not taken seriously. The former staffer — who chose to remain anonymous — slammed the senator for refusing to abide by the standards she has set for others. Indeed, a prominent component of her campaign is addressing Congress’ handling of sexual harassment claims.
Last year, the former staffer stated that one of Gillibrand’s aides — who happened to be married — made unwanted advances when he was informed that he would be placed in a supervisory role. She claimed that this individual repeatedly had made lewd and inappropriate comments about other female staffers and came on to her on numerous occasions. Gillibrand’s deputy chief of staff Anne Bradley and general counsel Keith Castaldo investigated the claims but took no action against the male aide.
After reporting the alleged misconduct, the female later claimed that the male staffer retaliated against her. After waiting almost three weeks, she informed Jess Fassler, Gillibrand’s chief of staff, that she would be resigning in protest to the handling of her situation. In her letter, she wrote:
“I have offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled. I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.’ Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation,”
Gillibrand has been vociferous in her crusade against sexual harassment and became one of the loudest voices of the #MeToo movement, calling out both former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and former President Bill Clinton for their past sexual improprieties. During the contentious Brett Kavanaugh hearings, she tweeted a link to a news report on the story and wrote: “I believe the women.”
Well, it looks like her advocacy for female victims of sexual harassment only goes so far — especially if she happens to know the offending party. In this case, the senator appears to have a close relationship with the male staffer, at whose wedding she officiated.
Many politicians are guilty of hypocrisy at some level, but in the case of Gillibrand, it is possible that her campaign might not survive this amount of duplicity. The #MeToo movement is still running strong in American society, and this news might destroy the little support she currently enjoys.