Herman Cain may confess that he did behave inappropriately with two female employees and that his employer had to shell out real money to resolve their claims. But barring that, it’s not productive to claim “Smear!” or, conversely, insist that he committed the alleged acts. Putting on my ex-lawyer hat, I would like to know some facts.
First, were there any other lawsuits, charges or actions against Cain? We know he was a named defendant in a financial scandal case, but what about other employee cases?
Second, in the two instances identified in the Politico story, did the matters ever reach the point of a harassment charge being filed with a government agency or a lawsuit being filed in court? If so, the allegations were made under penalty of perjury. There would also be a more specific accounting of the facts. And we should want to know if Cain’s deposition was ever taken.
Third, who was party to the financial settlements? If Cain was, he would have signed the agreement. A claim of “vague”memory then becomes more improbable. If he wasn’t, he’s under no obligation to remain silent about the cases or the settlements.
Finally, nuisance claims are made and settled every day. But a substantial amount of money doesn’t change usually hands unless, from the employer’s standpoint, there are “bad facts.” It would provide some indication of how bad the facts were if we knew if the five-figure settlement was closer to $10,000 or to $99,999. (No 9-9-9 pun intended.)
Aside from these factual matters, you might wonder why, if there were written settlements out there, would Cain not have disclosed this and thereby gotten to put his own best spin on this. Aside from denial and false comfort taken in confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements, it is very possible Cain would not have told his wife, family and close friends about this before now. It’s also certainly the case that he never expected to be at the top of the Republican polls. But now he’s operating in a different environment.
Under no circumstances should Cain conclude that he can stay mum or lie about the claims. There are now too many facts, too many witnesses and too many reporters buzzing around. It’s all going to spill out sooner or later. We should take note of Cain’s crisis management skills. He’ll need to use them like never before.