Karen Kraushaar wants to appear with other women with allegations against Herman Cain
By James V. Grimaldi,
The post was updated Wednesday at 11 a.m.
One of the women who accused GOP presidential contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s said she wants to go public -- now that her name has been revealed -- and hold a joint news conference with all of the women making similar allegations.
Karen Kraushaar, 55, an employee with the Treasury Department’s inspector general office, said she never wanted her name to be made public as one of Cain’s accusers. But a news organization published her name Tuesday and she now says she is ready to go before cameras.
“I am interested in a joint press conference for all the women where we would all be together with our attorneys and all of these allegations could be reviewed as a collective body of evidence,” Kraushaar told The Washington Post.
Cain denied Kraushaar’s allegations at a news conference in Arizona.
“To the best of my recollection, that is the one that I recall that filed a complaint that was found to be baseless,” Cain said. “The accusations made of sexual harassment. They were found to be baseless. There was no legal settlement. There was an agreement between that lady and the National Restaurant Association and it was treated as a personnel matter because there was no basis to her accusations.”
The Post learned Kraushaar’s name last week, but did not publish it, honoring her wishes to remain private.
When The Daily made her name public, she said she realized that she could not keep her identity private any longer.
“When you’re in a work situation where you are being sexually harassed, you are in an extremely vulnerable position,” Kraushaar said. “You do whatever you can to quickly get yourself a job someplace where you will be safe. That is what I thought I had achieved when I left.”
Cain said he remembered only one instance with Kraushaar that later was challenged.
“I can only recall one thing that I was aware of that was called sexual harassment,” Cain said. “The one thing that I remember...that one day in my office at the National Restaurant Association, I was standing near her like this [and said] ‘you’re the same height as my wife because my wife comes up to my chin. The door was open. My secretary was there.”
Cain also said there were no witnesses to any of her allegations.
“When she made her accusations, they were found to be baseless and she could not find anyone to corroborate her story,” Cain said. The restaurant association handled it...it ended up being an agreement, not a settlement.”
After the news conference, Kraushaar told the Post in an e-mail,” The reason sexual harassment is so difficult to prove is that workplace sexual predators try to make sure the victim is alone when the harassment takes place. The incidents in question occurred many years ago, but corroboration may still be possible with respect to some of the incidents, and in some cases it may even be possible to find witnesses.”
On Friday, Kraushaar’s attorney, Joel P. Bennett, issued a statement saying that his client had filed a complaint “about a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances from the CEO.”
“My client is five feet two inches,” Bennet said Wednesday. “She would not have filed a complaint about a comment that she was the same height as Mr. Cain’s wife.”
Kraushaar had worried that going public would have harmed her career as a communications specialist for the division of Treasury that acts as taxpayer advocate.
“It was only when reporters pursued a tip they received from NRA employees and a former board member that they confronted me with it,” Kraushaar said. “Though reliving the matter is extremely painful, it is now no longer a private matter but a matter of public interest.”
She has worked for the federal government in civil service positions, first at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and then the Treasury job, since leaving the National Restaurant Association, where she also worked in communications.
Political consultant Maria Cardona said she hired Kraushaar at the INS in 1999 just before the Elian Gonzalez episode. Cardona, then the communications director, said she was the credible, trusted voice of the INS in Miami. When she hired her, Kraushaar was in a hurry to leave the restaurant association, but never said why – until recently when the Cain allegations surfaced.
Kraushaar recently confided, “You didn’t know me from Adam. You took a chance on me.’ It wasn’t until recently that she said, ‘Now you know why I ve always been so grateful to you -- because you saved me from that monster’.”
A former journalist, Kraushaar worked for States News as one of the top editors for the wire service that was used by metropolitan newspapers to supplement Washington coverage with stories about local politicians and issues.
Kraushaar also had worried about the impact on her husband of 26 years, Kevin Kraushaar, who is a Republican lobbyists and strategic advisor who has donated to political campaigns of both parties, but mostly to Republicans.
Offers to go on television prompted Kraushaar to come up with the idea of a joint news conference with her fellow accusers.
Kraushaar, who was hired as TIGTA’s communications director in 2010, is “a supreme good worker” who is smart, articulate and an outside-the-box thinker, according to a person familiar with her work.
Last Thursday, Kraushaar read a statement in a senior staff meeting telling colleagues that she was the woman accusing Cain of sexual harassment, according to the source. During the meeting, Kraushaar asked colleagues not to discuss the matter publicly, but said she wanted them to know about it.
Staff writer Ed O’Keefe also contributed to this story.