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Former congressman Harold Ford Jr. fired by Morgan Stanley over inappropriate behavior, company says

Harold Ford Jr. in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 25, 2010. (Mike Groll/AP file)
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Harold Ford Jr., the former Democratic congressman who traded politics for Wall Street, has been fired by Morgan Stanley after a human resources investigation found he engaged in conduct “inconsistent with our values and in violation of our polices,” the company said Thursday.

HuffPost on Thursday reported that a woman interviewed by Morgan Stanley as part of the investigation alleged that Ford forcibly grabbed her during a professional meeting in Manhattan several years ago. Ford allegedly harassed and intimidated the woman and continued to contact her after the encounter until she wrote an email asking him to stop.

The woman, who was not identified in the HuffPost report, is not an employee of Morgan Stanley but worked with Ford professionally, the website reported.

MSNBC said Thursday night that it is benching Ford as an on-air contributor while the company investigates the allegations, Politico reported.

Ford is now among dozens of high-profile men who have been fired or have resigned from their jobs in politics, media, entertainment and business after facing allegations of sexually harassing or assaulting women and men. A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not elaborate on when the investigation began, when Ford was terminated or the specific behavior that led to the termination.

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Ford denied the allegations in a series of tweets Thursday and said he plans to sue Morgan Stanley and “the reporter.”

The author of the HuffPost article, Yashar Ali, said in a tweet Thursday that he is not being sued, and that Ford was instead referring to his accuser when he tweeted about “the reporter.”

HuffPost said it obtained an email in which the woman asked Ford to stop contacting her following multiple requests from the former congressman to go out for drinks.

In response to her allegation of his inappropriate behavior at their last meeting, Ford said, “Hey very sorry. Meant no harm,” according to HuffPost.

“I apologize for whatever I may have said or what was said. And my overtures are strictly professional. Again I apologize I didn’t mean to be inappropriate at all. Sorry that impression was left,” he allegedly wrote.

HuffPost did not identify the woman, but the website reviewed emails that seemed to confirm her conversations with Ford and spoke with people the woman had confided in about the exchange. The Washington Post has not been able to obtain the emails.

Ford said in his statement to HuffPost that “having drinks and dinner for work is part of my job” and that his interactions with his accuser were professional.

“I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue,” he said. “False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers.”

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Ford’s father, Harold Ford Sr., served 11 terms as a member of Congress from Tennessee.

In 1996, Ford Jr. was elected to replace his father and kept his seat for five terms. He left the House in 2007 and joined Morgan Stanley in 2011 as a managing director and senior client-relationship manager after working at Bank of America.

Ford married Emily Threlkeld in Miami in 2008, according to Memphis NBC affiliate WMC.

News of Ford’s firing came on the same day that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced he would step down amid multiple accusations that he touched women inappropriately. An Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, Rep. Trent Franks, also announced Thursday that he would resign, acknowledging in a statement that he discussed surrogacy with two female subordinates.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) ended his 52-year career in Congress over allegations that he harassed female aides and propositioned them for sex.

The allegations have politicians and advocates calling on Congress — which has passed laws exempting it from practices that apply to other employers — to reassess its methods for handling sexual complaints against members and staff. Congress’s existing rules require those wishing to file a complaint to navigate a complex process that discourages victims from speaking out.

This post has been updated.

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