A former lobbyist said that
Rep. Tom Reed
(R., N.Y.) made unwanted sexual advances to her in 2017, according to published comments, an account that the congressman denied.
Nicolette Davis, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who at the time worked as an insurance lobbyist, said Mr. Reed put his hand on her back, unhooked her bra and touched her leg during a fundraising trip, according to an account she gave to the Washington Post.
Lt. Davis didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Reed said that “this account of my actions is not accurate.”
Ines Gutzmer, a spokeswoman for
the insurance company where Lt. Davis worked at the time, said: “When this matter was reported to senior leadership and colleagues who were not present at the event, we immediately provided support and counsel for Nicolette, enabling her to determine personally how she wanted to proceed with regard to bringing this deeply troubling experience to light.”
“Nicolette continues to have 100% support from Aflac, as we strongly condemn any form of abuse or harassment,” Ms. Gutzmer continued.
Mr. Reed has said he is seriously considering running for governor in 2022. A former mayor of Corning, Mr. Reed has represented western New York in Congress for more than a decade since being elected in 2010. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
He also co-chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 56 House members who work to come up with compromise solutions for major policy debates. The group helped advance bipartisan negotiations over a coronavirus relief bill late last year, and Mr. Reed joined a bipartisan Senate group this week to talk about an upcoming infrastructure package, aides said.
The allegation comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has rebuffed calls for his resignations after multiple women said the governor behaved inappropriately toward them while they worked on his staff.
Mr. Cuomo has said he never touched anyone inappropriately and apologized if his workplace behavior made anyone uncomfortable. He asked people to reserve judgment until the completion of a review begun by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Mr. Reed has said the allegations about Mr. Cuomo were “abhorrent and have absolutely no place in our society, let alone the highest rung of government.”
Lt. Davis told the Post that Mr. Reed’s advances came on a weekend fundraising trip in Minneapolis to benefit former Rep. Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.). Lt. Davis said she and other lobbyists gathered at an Irish pub, where she was seated next to Mr. Reed. He put his hand on her back, unhooked her bra and then moved his hand up her leg, Lt. Davis told the Post.
Lt. Davis told the Post she asked the person sitting on the other side of her to help and he pulled Mr. Reed out of the restaurant.
The Post said she also texted a co-worker that a drunk lawmaker was rubbing her back, and told her more details about the evening when she returned from the trip. The co-worker, Jessica Strieter Elting, who referred a request for comment to Aflac, told the Post that Lt. Davis was shaken by the episode.
Brad Knox, then the vice president and counsel at Aflac, told the Post that Lt. Davis had informed him at the time that Mr. Reed had been drinking on the trip and tried to unbutton or unzip an article of her clothing. He said he asked her if she wanted to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee and she declined, according to the article. Mr. Knox also referred a request for comment to Aflac.
Sarah Chamberlain, president of Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of centrist Republicans, said Friday that she had gone on many trips with Mr. Reed and never seen any inappropriate behavior.
“There’s never been an issue,” said Ms. Chamberlain, who was on the 2017 Minnesota trip, but not at the pub. Ms. Chamberlain, who said she doesn’t drink, said there was widespread drinking on the trip. “I don’t recall him doing any more drinking than anybody else was doing,” she said of Mr. Reed.
Mr. Reed is often one of only a handful of Republicans to join with Democrats on high-profile legislation. This week the House passed a measure from Mr. Reed and Rep. Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) to remove the expired deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would write the equality of women into the Constitution. Mr. Reed was one of four Republicans to vote for the measure.
“I stand by my record,” Mr. Reed said in response to any questions about his votes.
—James Oberman contributed to this article.
Write to Eliza Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: WSJ – US News