The PJ Tatler

Cain Update: Hilton Won't Release Anything, Kraushaar Goes on the Record, and a DNC Connection?

Three things have happened since Herman Cain’s press conference this afternoon, in which he stated that he has not acted inappropriately with anyone. First, Jim Geraghty got word back from Hilton that they will not release any information pertaining to this story due to their privacy policy. That makes sense from a business point of view, as releasing anything would expose them to a Pandora’s box of information requests from who knows who going back who knows how many years. So any paper trail is going to have to come from Sharon Bialek or Herman Cain or the NRA. Hilton will not participate. And it’s possible that since all this is supposed to have happened 14 years ago, there may be no extant paper trail at all.

The second thing that’s happened concerns Karen Kraushaar, the original accuser whose attorney, Joel Bennett, released a statement on her behalf last week. She is now talking openly to the media and considering a joint press conference with other accusers.

Ms. Kraushaar, a spokeswoman at the Treasury Department, said in an interview that she was upset that her name had leaked into some press reports. But she said she had decided to speak out now that her identity was publicly known.

“When you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, you are extremely vulnerable,” she said. “You do whatever you can to quickly get yourself into a job someplace safe, and that is what I thought I had achieved when I left.”

Ms. Kraushaar had previously allowed her lawyer to challenge Mr. Cain’s denial that he had done anything wrong while at the helm of the restaurant association in the late 1990s. But after Ms. Bialek went public on Monday and several news organizations published Ms. Kraushaar’s name on Tuesday, she said she had decided to talk publicly — at least in a limited way.

She said she did not know whether or how she might tell more of her story, but had been warming “to the idea of a joint press conference where all of the women would be together with our attorneys and all of this evidence would be considered together.”

She said of Mr. Cain: “These allegations can be considered together as a body of evidence.”

Kraushaar has allowed Politico to reveal her identity, but has not yet gone public with what she accused Cain of doing. She has worked in government positions in the past several administrations, Republican and Democrat. She filed her claim against Cain in 1999 and it was settled that same year.

As if to muck things up a bit more, it also turns out that Sharon Bialek lived in the same Chicago building as Obama adviser David Axelrod, though apparently she doesn’t know him personally. That’s one possible connection to the Democrats, though it’s nothing unless and until evidence emerges that Axelrod played some role in all this.

In his press conference, Cain said he doesn’t remember her name, face or voice, but she and Chicago radio host Amy Jacobson, yes that Amy Jacobson, say that Bialek and Cain did meet at a Chicago Tea Party event about a month ago and had a 3 to 4 minute conversation.

We do, finally, have a tangible connection from the accusations to a political entity: The DNC. But don’t get too excited about that yet.

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s second public accuser, Karen Kraushaar, has a powerful defender with a big megaphone: Maria Cardona, a Democrat and one of the most prominent lobbyists in Washington.

Ms. Cardona, the former communications director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, hired Ms. Kraushaar after she left the National Restaurant Association, which had been headed by Mr. Cain. Last week, after reporters started contacting her about an unnamed accuser, Ms. Cardona reached out to Ms. Kraushaar to discuss it, promising to keep her name confidential.

On Monday, when Sharon Bialek went public as the first woman to put a face behind harassment allegations against Mr. Cain, Ms. Cardona and Ms. Kraushaar spoke again.

“She said to me, You know Maria, I’ve always been grateful to you for hiring me and now you know why: because you saved me from that monster,” Ms. Cardona said Tuesday in an interview with Washington Wire.

It probably took something more than a height comparison to trigger Kraushaar calling Cain a “monster.” And Cardona’s hiring Kraushaar took place years ago when Kraushaar left the NRA, before Cardona worked at the DNC. That history proves Cardona’s a Democrat, but it doesn’t disprove the underlying allegations against Cain. But if you’re looking for how this story got brought to Politico’s attention, Cardona may be a good place to start. Want more confusion? Kraushaar may be a registered Republican — according to Cardona, the Democrat pundit.

Video of Cain’s press remarks is in this post, if you haven’t seen it already.