First female politician brought down by harassment allegation
One of the first prominent female politicians accused of sexual harassment is dropping her bid for Congress due to the accusations.
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from Kansas, is ending her campaign Friday due to allegations she sexually harassed a male subordinate more than a decade ago.The Kansas City Star first reported Ramsey's decision, referencing a 2006 settlement made between LabOne – where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources – and Gary Funkhouser, the worker who filed a lawsuit. Funkhouser alleged Ramsey sexually harassed and retaliated against him when he rejected her advances.
"After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me," Funkhouser wrote in the complaint, obtained by the Star. "In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me."
Ramsey vehemently denied his claims and described Funkhouser's termination as "non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory." She said she was unaware of the settlement.
"Had those allegations, those false allegations, been brought against me directly instead of the company I would have fought to exonerate my name. I never would've settled," Ramsey told the Star. "And I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation."
But given the current environment, in which countless stories of sexual harassment and abuse have been brought to light in the media, entertainment and political industries, her situation was untenable.
Backed by prominent abortion rights Democratic group Emily's List, Ramsey was among the top recruits in the country to take on a Republican incumbent. But both Emily's List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee agreed with Ramsey's decision to step aside.
"In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard," Ramsey wrote in an open letter Friday. "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. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.
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