Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has had a tough rollout of her presidential campaign — answering for flip flops, failing to land any endorsements from the New York delegation and trouble gaining traction against her rivals.
It’s early. But now, if you are to believe a former female employee — and by Gillibrand’s standards, we should — she’s violated the precepts of her singular cause of punishing sexual harassers.
Gillibrand hasn’t just made sexual harassment the centerpiece of her political career, she became famous when she led the push to get Sen. Al Franken to resign.
Here is the standard she articulated when she said Franken must go: “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of this is OK, none of this is acceptable.”
Gillibrand is right that none of it is okay, but there are distinctions to be made: Harvey Weinstein is on one end, Franken near the other.
She didn’t apply that same standard to a sexual harassment claim a twentysomething female staffer made the senator’s married driver — Abbas Malik. The chief of staff investigated, in itself problematic given Gillibrand’s belief that all such claims must be dealt with outside of the chain of command because of obvious bias. Gillibrand officiated Malik’s wedding.
The staffer resigned after a cursory three-week investigation. Malik continued working until Politico presented its findings which collaborated the young woman’s account.
As for Franken, he deserved a chance to defend himself too.
In claims of wandering hands during photo ops, and an attempted kiss after an interview, there were women willing to tell their stories and a Senate Ethics Committee to hear them. Handled that way, Franken might be on the floor this week casting a vote on Trump’s national emergency declaration. We don’t know.
What’s shocking about the latest claim to come before Gillibrand is that when the problem crept into her own office, it took fear of publicity to get to the bottom of it all.