Female Democratic congressional candidate accused of sexual harassment, drops out of race

Female Democratic congressional candidate accused of sexual harassment, drops out of race
Andrea Ramsey, a female Democratic congressional candidate in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, will end her campaign after it was reported that a former employee accused of her of sexual harassment in a 2005 lawsuit. (Image source: Facebook video screenshot)

Andrea Ramsey, a female Democratic congressional candidate in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, will end her campaign after reports surfaced that a former employee had accused of her of sexual harassment in a 2005 lawsuit.

Axios noted that Ramsey is the first female candidate to be accused of sexual harassment amid a recent wave of such allegations against men who wield power within their industries.

What happened?

According to Axios, when Ramsey was the executive vice president of human resources at LabOne Inc., Gary Funkhouser — then a human resources manager working under Ramsey — alleged that she propositioned him for sex, and he filed a lawsuit against the company.

The lawsuit stated that she made “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” toward him, then stopped speaking to him, sent him from an office to a cubicle farther away from her, then fired him on June 13, 2005. Funkhouser and LabOne permanently closed the case in 2006 after reaching mediation terms.

Funkhouser declined to discuss the case with the Kansas City Star.

“All I can say is the matter has been resolved,” he told the newspaper.

Axios reported that Ramsey sent out a fundraising email in November referring to allegations that failed Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old girl.

“Predatory behavior is wrong,” the email stated, asking supporters to contribute to then-Democratic candidate Doug Jones’ campaign. Jones won Tuesday’s special election, although Moore has thus far refused to concede.

What did Ramsey say?

Ramsey denied the allegations in the lawsuit in a lengthy Facebook post.

“When I was the head of human resources at a local company, I had to make difficult business decisions on a daily basis concerning budgets, training initiatives, compensation and benefits, workforce hiring and workforce terminations,” she wrote. “A termination decision is always the most wrenching, because it affects not only a person’s livelihood, but also an individual’s dignity and sense of self. Sometimes employees don’t take the decision well, and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do because they are angry in that moment, seeking to retaliate.”

Ramsey added, “Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee’s position. That man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company (not against me). He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me. That is a lie.”

She wrote that “Now, twelve years later this suit is being used to force me out of my race for Congress.”

“Let me be clear: I never engaged in any of the alleged behavior,” Ramsey wrote. “And the due process that I love, that drew me to the field of law, is totally denied.”

Ramsey wrote that “a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations” led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to decide not to support her campaign.

Arguing that she was the best candidate to defeat incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Ramsey said, “The DCCC, as gatekeeper of endorsements and campaign funding has made its choice, once again putting its thumb on the scales by not allowing the democratic primary process to proceed.”

“It must live with the consequences of its shortsighted and reactive decision to eviscerate our campaign by not providing it with structural or financial support,” she wrote, adding that as a first-time candidate, she is “disappointed and disillusioned by the political process.”

Meredith Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement to the Kansas City Star, “If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office.”

Axios reported that the pro-choice group Emily’s List previously endorsed Ramsey but has already removed her page from its website.

“We understand that Andrea Ramsey has dropped out of the race. We support her decision and we wish her well,” Brian Lesswing, director of campaign communications for Emily’s List, told Axios.