[HOT] – Partisans, Wielding Money, Begin Seeking to Exploit Harassment Claims



While the charges are a partisan tinge, activists and lawyers fear that & # 39; such a development would harm a movement that rocked Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the media in New York and the corridors of Congress. has shot down both a Democratic fundraiser, Harvey Weinstein, and a conservative pillar, Bill O. Reilly.

"There is a danger in this environment that unsophisticated individuals who have been abused by powerful people could be exploited by groups seeking a partisan advantage, or by lawyers looking for a moment in the fires of the ramp, "said Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer who brought sexual harassment cases against politicians from both parties." I'm approaching it with a pure heart, "said Republican lawyer Jack Burkman. flamboyant known for her right-wing conspiracy theories who seeks to portray sexual relations as victims of harassment: "I do not want to see her politicized, even if, in a democracy, you see the political arsenal of everything." [19459007

Gloria Allred, a prominent women's rights lawyer and Democratic donor, raises money to fund a lawsuit against Mr. Trump by a woman who says she assaulted her The woman, Summer Zervos, has filed a defamation suit against the president that could force Trump to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct made by a group of women in the final weeks of the campaign

And a non-profit group founded by Democratic activist David Brock, who secretly spent $ 200,000 to try to bring charges of sexual misconduct against Mr. Trump before polling day, is considering create a fund to encourage victims to make similar claims. against Republican politicians.

Right-wing activists are also involved. In November, Mike Cernovich, Trump's social media agitator, proposed to pay $ 10,000 for the details of any sexual harassment settlement in Congress and said on Twitter that he would cover the costs of " any VICTIM of a member of Congress ". Shortly before publishing this offer, a source provided Mr. Cernovich with a copy of a sexual harassment regulation that led in December to the resignation of Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, until there the oldest member of Mr. Burkman, who hinted that Russian hitmen killed a young assistant of the National Democratic Committee in the 2016 elections, appeared in October to offer his services to women accusing Mr. Weinstein of Sexual misconduct. He had never treated sexual harassment before.

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Those who push the claims of sexual harassment say that they are simply trying to level a playing field that has long favored powerful men, discouraging their victims from coming forward and silencing those who use confidential regulations

Mike Cernovich, a conservative social media agitator, offered money to anyone with details of sexual harassment regulations with members of Congress Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

"You have to soften the pot a bit," said Cernovich. A lawyer training he said that he was shocked that the person who gave him the Conyers documents refused his offer to pay for them.

But, he said, "if any one had a settlement like Conyers, I would be happy"

Money Could Have Costs

"If you receive money from someone who has an ax to shoot against the person you are accusing of illegal activity, this certainly opens the door to a series of questions that could very well undermine the veracity of your client's story, "said Douglas H. Wigdor, a New York lawyer specializing in employment law.

Partisan efforts have already elicited some reaction. Mr. Cernovich and the far-right activist Charles C. Johnson had to give up asserting that they had a sexual harassment settlement that would bring down a Democratic senator when it became apparent that the document – which targeted the Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York – was a fake, raising verbatim passages from Conyers' complaint unearthed by Mr Cernovich. Mr. Schumer referred the case to the Capitol Hill police for a criminal investigation.

"I like to make a fuss in advance, and that seemed pretty good," said Mr. Cernovich. "I've definitely learned a lesson there."

Cernovich is an unlikely champion for victims of sexual harassment, given his previous career as an anti-feminist blogger who cast doubt on rape allegations and wrote articles like "Misogyny Gets You Laid. "

It is difficult to determine how much money has been raised to fund claims related to sexual harassment, since there is no money. requirement for public disclosure for most of these donations.

Proponents of Republican Politicians Charged with Sexual Misconduct – Including Mr. Trump and Repeated Senate Republican Candidate Roy S. Moore of Alabama – Defended Himself by Suggestion, Some Democrats have given political motivation to claims of sexual harassment against their politicians, including those that led to the resignation of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. His supporters point out that Franken's original accuser, Leeann Tweeden, had appeared as a semi-regular guest on the Fox News Channel show curated by Sean Hannity, a confidante of Mr. Trump. .

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Credit photo of Dr.Gina Loudon

Feeding democratic suspicions was a message Twitter linked to Trump's political advisor, Roger Stone, who surfaced just hours before Ms. Tweeden's initial accusations: "Roger Stone says that's the time Al Franken spent in the barrel. Franken next in the long list of Democrats to be accused of "grabby" behavior. "

Mr. Stone said that he had" absolutely nothing to do with it ", but he was warned by a source" in the Fox Network "that the allegation was going to come.

Allred said that she was not concerned about the motivations of supporters who could fund Ms. Zervos' case against Mr. Trump.

"I I have neither the time nor the interest to interview each donor and ask him why they would like it, "she said," I have no way of knowing if they have a political program or if they simply think the truth matters.

Allred maintains an active online call for Ms. Zervos' case, and has personally solicited donations from influential Democrats. She discussed fundraising assistance with Mr. Brock, a "right-hired killer" who changed sides and who became one of the most ferocious loyalists of any country. Hillary Clinton during her campaign against Mr. Trump

Mrs. Allred stated that her fundraising for the Zervos case had so far yielded "a little under $ 30,000," mainly in small donations. The money is used for expenses like depositions and has not gone to pay legal fees, which have already reached $ 150,000, said Ms. Allred, who added that neither she nor Ms. Zervos n & # 39; 39, would personally accept the money raised.

"We see no prospect of being paid by the fund on the basis of the amounts donated so far," she wrote in an email. "Nevertheless, we will continue to focus on Ms. Zervos' case because we believe, like Ms. Zervos, that the truth is important and that President Trump should be held accountable for his words and actions."

During During the presidential campaign, Ms. Zervos stated that Mr. Trump had sexually assaulted her in 2007, after participating in a reality show "The Apprentice." He rejected his accusations and those of other accusers as "invented absurdities". They hinted that they were motivated by celebrity, or that they were subject to it through Mrs. Clinton's campaign – comments that served as the basis for Ms. Zervos' defamation lawsuit after the arrest. ;election. A judge decides whether to allow the trial

A long history

Questions about the funding and motivations of sexual harassment charges against politicians are not dated. yesterday.

In 1993, Mr. Brock first disclosed allegations of sexual harassment against President Bill Clinton by Paula Jones, a former Arkansas employee, in The American Spectator magazine, which received $ 1.8 million from conservative investor Richard Mellon Scaife.

Mrs. Jones' harassment lawsuit was funded by a conservative law organization called Rutherford Institute, which had never dealt with cases of sexual harassment.

David Brock helped uncover and accuse Sexual Misconduct President Bill Clinton before becoming a faithful supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is now considering creating a fund to encourage victims to make complaints of sexual misconduct against Republican politicians. Credit Todd Heisler / The New York Times

Mr. Clinton ends up paying Ms. Jones $ 850,000 to discontinue his prosecution in 1999. But at that time, a statement given by Mr. Clinton in the trial – in which he denied a sexual relationship with former intern White House Monica S. Lewinsky – motion of A process that ended with the removal of Mr. Clinton.

Allred's daughter, attorney Lisa Bloom, seized the political power of the sexual harassment charges against Mr. Trump shortly after winning the presidential nomination Republican. She said that she reached out to a "super PAC" pro-Clinton – although she refused to identify which – for money to help her. to consider a complaint of sexual misconduct against Mr. Trump

On polling day, but because of the attention it generated, several donors asked Ms. Bloom " to ask how they could help, "she said. She told them that she was working with "some other women" who could "find the courage to speak" against Mr. Trump if the donors provided funds for security, resettlement and perhaps a "safe house" .

Ms. Bloom would not identify the donors. But two Democrats familiar with the arrangements said that a non-profit group founded by Mr. Brock, American Bridge's 21st Century Foundation, donated $ 200,000, while fashion entrepreneur Susie Tompkins Buell, a major contributor to Mr. Brock's group series, donated $ 500,000. Bloom's Farm for the Effort of Last Resort

This was not productive. A woman asked for $ 2 million, said Mrs. Bloom, then decided not to show up. Neither other woman.

Mrs. Bloom said that she has repaid most of the money, keeping only "some funds to pay for our personal expenses" while working to review and prepare the records. She said that she did not receive any legal fees for the job, and that she did not contact Ms. Clinton or her campaign "on any matter." She said that she represented only clients whose stories she corroborated, and challenged the premise that she offered money to coax clients

"It costs nothing to publicize allegations," she said. "Security and relocation are expensive and have been badly needed in a case of such magnitude, in a country filled with anger, hatred and violence."

The Democrats familiar with American Bridge's financial arrangements but paid the money back to Ms. Buell

Brock declined to comment, and the Representatives of Mrs. Clinton's campaign said that they were unaware of her work with Mrs. Bloom. Buell, a longtime friend and financial supporter of Mrs. Clinton who helped found the Esprit clothing brand, did not comment on the financial arrangement. But she expressed her frustration that Mr. Trump has escaped the repercussions that have hit other powerful men accused of similar misconduct.

The allegations against Mr. Trump may "have more echo" with voters in the current national conversation about sexual misconduct, she suggested.

A version of this article is printed on on A 1 of the New York Edition with the title: Activists use the effort to expose sexual harassment . Order Reprints | Paper of today | Subscribing


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