Herman Cain and his presidential campaign came under fire Monday after the Washington D.C. blog Politico ran a story about allegations of sexual harrasment during his time as the president of the National Restaurant Association.
Apparently the allegations that have bedeviled his campaign since Halloween originated in Chicago, Illinois, long a home to the National Restaurant Association's trade show.
Cain allegedly made unwanted advances toward two female employees in the 1990s. Those women complained to colleagues about the inappropriate behavior and were allegedly paid financial settlements in exchange for their silence and departure from the company.
A spokesman for Cain denied the allegations.
This personal attack on Mr Cain started with an anonymous tip to the liberal leaning Washington DC Internet site POLITICO.com," said spokesman Jon Zahm. "The allegations were false when they were made 12 years ago and they remain false today. When a person is having success in the political process they become the subject of cheap shots and personal attacks.This 'crabs in a barrel' mentality turns off the American people who are looking for optimistic, successful and smart new leaders to turn Washington updside down.
Restaurant association Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Communications, Sue Hensley, told NBCChicago that it does not comment on personal matters.
Cain himself did discuss the allegations -- he's been criticized for mismanaging the firestorm -- with Fox News' Greta Van Sustern. During that interview Cain said at least one of the incidents in question occured in Chicago during the convention.
VAN SUSTEREN: There was one suggestion that someplace in Chicago, I think that, if I got this right, that you had had a conversation with someone. Is that not right?
CAIN: When we were at the restaurant show, I was constantly talking with different staff members about different issues. If I had a private conversation with her, I don't recall having a private conversation with her. But all of the conversations that I had, it could have been. But I don't recollect.
The presidential candidate said the allegations amount to a witch hunt.
Late Tuesday, however, a lawyer for one of the alleged accusers said the women are barred from discussing their side of the story because of a confidentiality agreement.
Attorney Joel Bennett said Cain is basically badmouthing these women by denying their claims, and says things would be different without the confidentiality agreement.
"That's a whole different ball game," Bennett said.