SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denied accusations of gender-based workplace discrimination and sexual harassment from a former campaign employee in Iowa, who he says was fired by his campaign “for cause.” He called her allegations "totally made up."
“She’s a very disgruntled employee. She’s from Iowa, she was fired by Chuck Laudner, who said she wasn’t doing a good job,” Trump said in a telephone interview. Laudner is Trump’s Iowa state chairman.
Elizabeth Davidson, 26, filed a complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission on Thursday, according to the New York Times, that alleged she was paid less than male employees and fired for speaking to the news media when no male employees had faced such consequences.
Davidson also said that when she met Trump last summer, he looked at her and another female volunteer and said, “You guys could do a lot of damage."
Trump denied that he made the reference to their appearance, saying he was not familiar with the phrase in Davidson's complaint. He added that the allegations were intentionally timed to appear just before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, which could potentially sway voters at the last minute. He called it a “disgrace” and criticized the New York Times for running the story.
“It’s a disgrace; you know it’s a hold up. They do it the day of the caucus. I have no idea who she is,” he said. “She also said I used a phrase — you and I have both heard a lot worse phrases than that, but that one is not in my vocabulary."
He added: “She made that up. I’ve heard a lot worse phrases than that, you understand, but it’s not something that I would use."
Trump said he is confident that his team in Iowa would not discriminate against an employee based on gender.
“These are very good people. These are people that are Iowa-based. She was fired for cause. She’d like to be back with the campaign but they don’t want her,” he said. “And I just don’t know who she is. I have no idea.”
He said that a confidentiality clause in Davidson's contract prohibited her from speaking to the media. That clause was violated when she spoke to the New York Times for a story that presented turmoil within the campaign’s senior ranks in the state.
Trump added that he poses for "hundreds" of photos with staffers and voters each day and that, despite posing once for a picture with her, he did not know her.