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Female Congressional Candidate Ends Run After She Is Accused Of Sexual Harassment

A woman running for Congress as a Democrat in Kansas — a red state — says she will drop out following the revelation of a sexual harassment allegation lodged by a former employee whom she had fired.

Andrea Ramsey, a retired business executive, was one of the Democratic candidates running to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District.

Ramsey vehemently denied the allegations in a letter posted on her campaign's Facebook page.

"Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee's position. That man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company (not against me). He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me. That is a lie. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the allegations and decided not to pursue the complaint; the man later decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. Because I wasn't a named party, I didn't have any opportunity to participate in its resolution."

Ramsey wrote that the "false allegations" were brought by a "disgruntled, vindictive employee" and that had the allegations been brought against her directly, she would have sued for defamation.

As the New York Times reports, "Ms. Ramsey is the rare—perhaps the only—woman in public life to face consequences from a sexual harassment accusation in the weeks since journalistic exposés spawned the #MeToo movement."

Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources at a company called LabOne in 2005. According to the Kansas City Star, the company reached a settlement with the former employee who had made the allegation, Gary Funkhouser. He and the company eventually agreed to dismiss the case permanently in 2006.

The state's 3rd District has been targeted by the Democratic Party in its effort to gain control of the House of Representatives because Hillary Clinton out-polled Donald Trump there in 2016.

Ramsey had harsh words for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

"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. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process."

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, Meredith Kelly, "Members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard. If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: December 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced the Kansas Star. The correct publication is the Kansas City Star.
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.