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Cain Accuser Petitions National Restaurant Association to Go Public

One of Herman Cain’s accusers from a series of sexual harassment charges stemming back to the late 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association has readied a prepared statement, and is waiting for the NRA to decide today if she will be allowed to deliver the statement. The accuser is bound by a confidentiality agreement that would allow the NRA to go after the settlement she received if she speaks out.

We now know that, between the two accusers, $80,000 was disbursed by the NRA. The New York Times reported that the first accuser got $35,000, and now Politico adds that the second accuser received $45,000.

New details have already emerged in the case.

The woman in question, roughly 30 years old at the time and working in the National Restaurant Association’s government affairs division, told two people directly at the time that Cain made a sexual overture to her at one of the group’s events, according to the sources familiar with the incident. She was livid and lodged a verbal complaint with an NRA board member that same night, these sources said.

The woman told one of the sources Cain made a suggestion that she felt was overtly sexual in nature and that “she perceived that her job was at risk if she didn’t do it.”

“She is a pretty confident individual, and she was pretty upset,” the source, an acquaintance of the woman, said of her demeanor after the encounter with Cain. “Not crying, but angry.”

She described it as an “unwanted sexual advance” to the other source. The woman took the matter immediately and directly to the board member because “she wanted this fixed,” the source said.

After these allegations, the woman believes that the workplace turned hostile toward her, leading to her asking for a settlement. The outlines of the story are that it was a night of carousing, and Cain basically propositioned the young woman, asking her to come home with him.

Cain’s campaign has reacted to all this by having the candidate do an interview with Clarence Thomas’ wife, accusing the Rick Perry campaign of leaking the information, retracting that accusation, and then retracting the retraction. And yet, Cain remains at or near the top of all polls for the Republican primary. The base has convinced itself that this is a liberal media hit job, or that sexual harassment doesn’t exist, or the woman was asking for it, or I don’t know. Of course, the accusations have dribbled out and grown over the week, so there’s a way to go yet.

Actually, the more troubling part of this may be Cain’s management style as a corporate trade group head:

Once settled into the powerful trade association’s 17th Street NW offices, however, Cain developed a different reputation. Colleagues recall that he spent the organization’s money liberally, commissioning new information technology and phone systems and spending nearly double what had been budgeted to renovate an auditorium.

“He did not have the temperament to be an association executive,” said William Fisher, Cain’s predecessor at the organization. “He did not like to have to go to a board of directors to get authorization to do certain things. He did not like criticism from the state associations.” […]

During his tenure, the association was a tough opponent of minimum-wage increases and mandatory health-care benefits. He lobbied against anti-smoking regulations and took on a coalition of traffic-safety groups advocating a lowering of the blood-alcohol limit used to define drunken driving.

Conservative anti-government crank, disinterested in actually functioning as a manager, wanting dictatorial control, and spending money liberally on himself and his buddies. That’s the lesson of Herman Cain’s National Restaurant Association experience.

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David Dayen

David Dayen