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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Herman Cain 2012 Campaign Plagued By Sexual Harassment Allegations

A DeKalb county woman says she carried on a 13-year affair with GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, landing another blow to a campaign already beset by charges of sexual harassment.

Cain, who is married, went on CNN before the accusation was made public Monday and declared it false. Cain acknowledged that he and the 46-year-old Dunwoody woman were friends.

“I did not have an affair, and until I see and hear exactly ... what accusations are going to be made, let’s move on,” Cain said on CNN.

Ginger White, a divorced mother of two with a long history of financial troubles, said in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta that she and Cain had an off-and-on physical relationship that ended shortly before he declared his candidacy in May. She said the relationship began in the 1990s.

Cain told CNN White doesn’t have emails, letters, gifts or other possible evidence of an affair. But White produced copies of cellphone bills that showed more than 60 phone calls or text messages from his number. A Fox 5 reporter was shown on the broadcast sending a text message to the number from White’s bill. Someone identified as Cain returned the call and spoke briefly to the reporter. White also produced copies of two of Cain’s books that included personal inscriptions.

Cain told the station White had his number “because he was trying to help her financially.”

White has had numerous financial issues, including a bankruptcy and numerous evictions in DeKalb County. She was also once successfully sued for libel by a former business partner. White says she was unaware of the lawsuit and did not defend herself. Her attorney said she has struggled to find work. Cain gave her money at least once, according to the station.

The pair met, according to White, in Louisville, Ky., when Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association. They had drinks and he invited her to his hotel, she claims. Cain, a Stockbridge resident, would fly her around the country to cities where he was speaking, she said in the interview.

Cain “made [the affair] very intriguing,” she said. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time and it was exciting.”

Cain said that White’s allegations, like those who previously accused him of sexual harassment, “were baseless because they couldn’t come up with any documentation or anything that was credible.”

Lin Wood, an Atlanta attorney Cain hired to help him respond to a string of sexual harassment allegations, said accusations such these should be handled privately.

“This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace — this is not an accusation of an assault — which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate,” Wood said in a statement. “Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults, a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.”

Media interest in Cain’s personal life has intensified in recent months along with his once-soaring poll numbers and the string of sexual harassment claims that have dogged his campaign.

After the initial report and Cain's denial, White told The Associated Press that Cain was not being truthful when he said there had been no affair.

"That would be false," White said. "What I said in the interview was true."

At her apartment in Dunwoody, Ga., White declined to elaborate on her statements during a brief interview with the AP. "I can't make any comment on this," she said. "We're trying to be slightly sensitive."

In its report, Fox 5 Atlanta said White had Cain's name in her cell phone contacts, and when its reporter sent a text message to the number, Cain called right back.

"He told us he knew 'Ginger White' but said these are more false allegations," the station reported. Cain said White had his number because he was trying to help her financially.

In a written statement released immediately after the story aired, Cain's campaign said detractors were trying to "derail the Cain Train with more accusations of past events that never happened."

In his initial denial, Cain vowed to remain in the presidential race as long as he has the support of his wife, with whom he said he had discussed the most recent allegation.

In her interview, White said she decided to come forward after seeing Cain attack his other accusers in an appearance on television.

"It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of, and being treated as if they were automatically lying, and the burden of proof was on them," she said. "I felt bad for them."

White told the Atlanta TV station she expects to be scrutinized by Cain and the media.

Georgia court records show a series of judgments against White for not paying rent in Atlanta-area apartments, including one filed about two weeks ago.

In the interview, she said she first met Cain in the late 1990s in Louisville, Ky., when he was president of the National Restaurant Association. They had drinks and he invited her to his hotel room, she recalled.

She quoted Cain as telling her, "You're beautiful to me and I would love for us to continue this friendship," then produced his personal calendar and invited her to meet him in Palm Springs.

White has been accused of lying before. A former business partner, Kimberly Vay, filed a libel suit as part of a larger business dispute with White. Vay's attorney, Kurt Martin, said a judge sided with Vay after White failed to respond to the suit. Martin said a jury must still decide whether to award damages.

White's attorney, Edward Buckley, acknowledged the libel suit. He said White thought the libel claim had been settled as part of a larger settlement.

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