Grimes slightly sharpens her concern over harassment saga while her campaign hammers on women's issues

09/08/2013 05:58 PM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes slightly ratcheted up her rhetoric Friday about the allegations of sexual harassment against a sitting Democratic state legislator but still declined to say whether the lawmaker should resign.

Instead, Grimes — a lawyer by training who is in her second year as secretary of state — said she agrees with “all efforts to hold” Rep. John Arnold accountable. Here’s her statement sent to Pure Politics in response to an inquiry about whether Grimes is joining other Democratic lawmakers in wanting to see Arnold step down:

“There is no place for harassment in the workplace, and such behavior is unacceptable. In the Secretary of State’s office, we have a ‘no tolerance’ policy for this type of behavior, and it should be that same way throughout state government. I am very disturbed by these allegations and support all efforts to hold Representative Arnold accountable through public and open hearings.”

Her comment comes as House Democratic Speaker Greg Stumbo, an ally of Grimes, announced that the five-legislator panel he convened to conduct an internal investigation into Arnold’s conduct will have its first meeting Sept. 17. That panel is charged for reviewing the allegations brought by two Democratic House staff members that Arnold inappropriately touched them and made sexual comments to them. A third staff member filed a separate complaint against Arnold with the Legislative Ethics Commission. The panel, made up of two Republicans and three Democrats, can recommend the full House censuring or expelling Arnold.

Grimes has said little publicly about the allegations against Arnold, of Union County, even as her Senate campaign continues to make women’s issues a centerpiece of her run against Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Before Friday’s statement, Grimes’ campaign had issued a milder response to the Courier-Journal’s Joe Gerth for his Aug. 25 column. Grimes said in that statement that the conduct outlined in the staffers’ complaints “should not be tolerated”

“Due process must be afforded to protect all parties involved, while also ensuring the public’s full confidence in the ongoing investigation,” she told Gerth in the statement.

Yet Grimes’ campaign spent much of last week blasting Republicans and McConnell for a spokesman’s comment that Grimes was an “empty dress.” Much of her campaign’s narrative early on has been that she would better represent Kentucky families and women. She often mentions McConnell’s votes against a final version of the Violence Against Women Act and against minimum wage hikes. That’s a theme McConnell’s campaign is all too aware of as it recently rolled out a parade of women supporters for McConnell.

The latest skirmish popped up when The Hill first quoted National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring as saying Grimes was an “empty dress” for parroting Democratic talking points or giving “incoherent” answers to policy questions.

National Democrats and Grimes issued several press releases and fundraising emails highlighting and criticizing the comment as sexist and tasteless.

“This statement was more than just a tasteless remark. It’s a reflection of a Senator whose priorities are wrong for Kentucky,” said one fundraising email from Grimes.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

Comments

  • Marcus Woodward wrote on September 09, 2013 07:04 AM :

    Mitch has relied for years on his well oiled technique of “whac-a-mole” which when viewed in the light of today’s political dynamics reveals the fact that Mitch is just a plain old bully. Hurling epithets at folks to diminish their standing is his stock in trade. Bullying ladies has NEVER been in style in Kentucky Senator, and THAT lady is not to be bullied by you or anyone!! Find some issues and rise to the level your office demands, if you can.

  • sam pierce wrote on September 09, 2013 11:02 AM :

    It is sexist to say that it is OK to say someone is an “empty suit”, but not OK to say someone such as Grimes is an “empty dress.” She basically doesn’t have anything going for her except money and the partisan Democrats’ jealousy of Mitch. The only bullying I see in this campaign is the Democrats who believe anything goes in their unfair criticism of Mitch McConnell. Grimes is a lot like the Peanuts character Lucy who bullies Charlie Brown. She and her spokes-people are the real bullies in this race. Grimes should dress up as the Wicked Witch on Halloween and have all her Democrat minions in flying monkey costumes. Just throw some water on Grimes and she will melt.

  • tony wrote on September 11, 2013 07:14 AM :

    Apparently someone threw some water on Mitch and turned him into a do nothing turtle man. He is the most useless consumer of taxpayer dollars in years. Time for him to crawl away and mumble to himself for a change.

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