WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Two women accused Republican U.S. presidential candidate Herman Cain of inappropriate behavior while he headed a trade group, allegations his campaign attacked.
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, several sources confirmed to Politico.
When asked about its reporting, Politico said Cain has had “thousands of people working for me” at different businesses over the years and would not comment “until I see some facts or some concrete evidence.”
The women said Cain’s behavior made them angry and uncomfortable, Political reported Sunday.
They said they signed agreements that led to payouts to leave the association, the report said.
The agreements included language that barred the women from discussing their departures, it said.
The Hill reported Cain’s campaign painted the story as an attack by “inside the Beltway media” on the Georgia businessman, who became a top-tier candidate because of his solid performances at GOP debates and his 9-9-9 tax plan, which would replace the current tax system by imposing 9 percent income, sales and corporate taxes.
“Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain,” his campaign said in a statement.
“Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the chief executive officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts,” the statement said.
Politico reported that Cain and his campaign in recent days have declined to respond directly to questions about whether he ever was accused of sexual harassment while at the restaurant association. They also declined to answer questions about specific reporting that confirmed financial settlements in two cases in which complaints were made.
Politico said the incidents included allegedly innuendo-laced conversations or questions of a sexually suggestive nature that occurred during conferences at hotels and other sanctioned restaurant association events, and at the association’s offices. Sources also described physical gestures that weren’t explicitly sexual but made women who saw them uncomfortable and said they considered the gestures improper in a professional relationship.
Politico said it learned of allegations against Cain and pieced together accounts of what happened by talking to former board members, current and past staffers and other people familiar with the trade group when Cain was there. The Washington publication also said it was shown documentation describing the allegations and showing the restaurant association formally resolved the matter. Both women got five-figure separation packages.
Several leaders of National Restaurant Association board of directors at the time of Cain’s departure said they hadn’t heard about any complaints regarding Cain making unwanted advances.
“I have never heard that. It would be news to me,” said Denise Marie Fugo, who runs a Cleveland catering company. “He’s very gracious.”