In a radio ad set to air Wednesday, Virginia Republican Corey A. Stewart is doubling down on a suggestion that Sen. Tim Kaine has been accused of sexual harrassment, an implication that has no evidence and which Kaine (D) calls completely false.
In the ad, Stewart refers to $17.2 million paid by Congress since 1990 for 264 settlements and awards to federal employees for violations of a wide variety of employment rules, ranging from the Americans With Disabilities Act to sexual harassment. A “large portion” of the cases involved legislative offices other than the House and the Senate, according to the Congressional Office of Compliance.
“While Tim Kaine and the Democrats falsely accuse Judge Kavanaugh over high school rumors, they won’t tell us which of the senators are sexual predators,” Stewart says in the ad, referring to Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. An ominous soundtrack plays in the background. “Why not Senator Kaine? What are you hiding? Are you on that list?”
In December 2017, Kaine pushed for the public release of details from confidential settlements related to sexual misconduct allegations against senators and any members of their staff. In response, the Congressional Office of Compliance disclosed the $17.2 million settlement figure but declined to release any more details.
Stewart, who trails Kaine by nearly 20 points in most polls with five weeks left before the Nov. 6 election, appears to be reverting back to a more caustic tone in his campaign after trying to soften his image in an attempt to gain ground on the Democrat incumbent.
He first suggested Kaine was among those accused of sexual misconduct during a hostile debate last week, and is likely to do so again during Tuesday night’s debate in Richmond.
There is no evidence of a sexual harrasment charge against Kaine or Stewart.
In a telephone interview, Stewart, chair of Prince William County’s board of supervisors, acknowledged that he has no evidence that Kaine has ever been accused of misconduct. But without transparency, the public can’t be sure who has been the subject of claims, including Republican leaders of Congress, he said.
“They all could be on it,” Stewart said.
Kaine’s campaign called the ad “desperate” and “a pathetic smear” from the Republican nominee who last year campaigned for Alabama Republican Roy Moore in his failed Senate campaign after he was accused by eight women of sexually predatory behavior when they were teenagers during the 1980’s.
“This is a desperate lie from a candidate so starved for attention that he will apparently stop at nothing to try to win political office,” Ian Sams, Kaine’s top spokesman, said in a statement.
“The truth is that Tim Kaine has never received a single complaint in the Senate,” Sams said. “In fact, Senator Kaine has been a leader in getting Congress to release more data on sexual harassment claims. The only thing Stewart has revealed with this attack is his total lack of character and moral fiber.”