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Grassley adviser resigns after sexual harassment accusation

A communications adviser to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) during the Supreme Court confirmation fight has abruptly resigned after an accusation of sexual harassment — an allegation he denies. 

Garrett Ventry submitted his resignation Friday night, he said in a brief phone interview Saturday morning. He said he denies the allegation but stepped down “in order to not be a distraction” as Senate Republicans continue to work to get Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh confirmed.

“Garrett was one of several temporary staff brought on to assist in the committee’s consideration of the Supreme Court nomination, a team that has done outstanding work,” a committee spokesman said Saturday morning. “While he strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.

After a sexual assault allegation surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, Republicans have been pushing to hear from both parties quickly. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

NBC News reported Saturday morning that it had been investigating Ventry’s past employment history, including his tenure in the office of North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell in 2017. According to the network, Ventry was let go from the office after a female GOP staffer in the North Carolina General Assembly accused him of sexual harassment. He had also been accused of embellishing his résumé.

Bell told NBC News that “Mr. Ventry did work in my office and he’s no longer there, he moved on.” Bell did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday. 

Before coming on temporarily to Grassley’s staff, Ventry worked at CRC Public Relations, a prominent public relations firm for conservative causes based in Alexandria, Va., that represents influential legal groups on the right such as the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network. 

The firm said in a statement that Ventry had been on a leave of absence and that he had resigned as of Saturday morning. The company also said it was not aware of the allegations against Ventry.

Sean Sullivan and Gabriel Pogrund contributed to this report.