As rumors continue to swirl of investigations that might expose sexual-misconduct allegations against dozens of members of Congress, one of the questions we’ve all wondered about is when we’d have the first case of a congresswoman being accused of harassment or other bad behavior.
That still hasn’t happened yet, but today a candidate for Congress in Kansas withdrew from a credible challenge against a Republican incumbent because of a 2005 claim by an employee that she fired him because he refused to have sex with her. The Kansas City Star broke the story:
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.
Ramsey subsequently released an open letter denying the allegations categorically, and blaming the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for pushing her out of the race. But she expressed support for the continuing effort to uncover sexual misconduct in politics and elsewhere, and basically treated her candidacy as an unjust, collateral victim of a just war:
In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard. For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign….
On balance, it is far more important to me that women are stepping forward to tell their stories and confront their harassers than it is to continue our campaign.
Ramsey went on to complain that her misfortune may have denied the voters of the Third Congressional District of Kansas a better congressman than Republican Kevin Yoder. And she’s probably not the only one who thinks so. In an early analysis of the race, the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman called Ramsey “probably the stronger of the two” Democrats in the race against the “highly vulnerable” Yoder.
We’ll never know how she would have done next November. But she will probably be relieved when she’s no longer alone as a female political casualty of the Reckoning.