Nearly two weeks ago, ESPN President John Skipper shocked the media world by suddenly resigning from his position at the “Worldwide Leader.”
At the time, Skipper said he needed to resign to deal with substance abuse issues.
In a statement, Skipper said:
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob (Iger) displayed here and always.
I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.
As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.
To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.
This explanation seemed rather suspicious. Since Skipper had just signed a major contract extension the month before his resignation.
At the time, Breitbart Sports noted:
The timing of Skipper’s resignation seems a bit of a mystery. Skipper had just signed a multi-year contract extension in November. How does one develop a long-term substance problem in a month? Perhaps ESPN just became aware of Skipper’s issue in the last month, though, that too would seem unlikely. Moreover, it’s likely that ESPN would at least attempt to offer some kind of counseling as opposed to compelling Skipper to resign, if they just found out about Skipper’s issue after signing him to a brand new deal.
Could there be something another, bigger story behind this announcement?
Well, Clay Travis of Fox Sports Radio and Outkick the Coverage reports that there is something bigger indeed, behind Skipper’s resignation. Travis reports that in the days following Skipper’s announcement, several reports came to him offering a much different explanation for Skipper’s immediate departure.
“In the next couple of days I was told by multiple sources I trust inside ESPN that the reason for Skipper’s “resignation” was because of sexual harassment issues inside the company. In the wake of the Boston Globe story about sexual harassment I was told Skipper’s own issues suddenly emerged and that was why the resignation happened so abruptly.
And ESPN decided to blame substance abuse issues instead.”
Travis also poked a hole in Skipper/ESPN’s “substance abuse” claim by tweeting photos from a tipster, which appear to show Skipper and ESPN radio host Dan LeBatard at a bar in North Carolina:
A trip out to have a couple of drinks with your friend would all be perfectly normal and a total non-story except for the fact that Skipper just resigned from ESPN 11 days ago citing his struggles with substance addiction and his desire to get help for that addiction.
Now maybe Skipper wasn’t addicted to alcohol — and it was some other drug instead — but if you have such an issue with substance addiction that you need to immediately resign from ESPN should you really be out drinking 11 days later with one of the most prominent employees at your former company? And if you’re Skipper’s good friend, Dan LeBatard, would you let your friend go out drinking with you if you knew he had a true issue with substance abuse and you were crying about it on your radio show 11 days ago?
That seems highly unlikely.
That does indeed seem unlikely. ESPN wouldn’t be unique among major media and entertainment organizations, for forcing out high-profile executives or performers over sexual harassment charges. After all, the last few months have seen dozens of actors, journalists, comedians, politicians, and others, face removal for some form of sexual misconduct.
So why lie about it? If in fact, ESPN is lying about the reasons for Skipper’s resignation?
The answer may be found higher up the food chain. Disney CEO Bob Iger is a rumored2020 Democrat presidential candidate. Considering how crucial the female vote is, especially in a Democratic primary, one would think that Iger would move aggressively to quash any potentially damaging sexual harassment scandal at one of his larger networks.
Would Iger engage in that type of politically-calculated micromanagement?
Well, he’s done it before.
In the weeks after Jemele Hill called President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter, Iger personally intervened to prevent Hill’s suspension. Now, why would Iger do that?
Could it be because of Iger’s concern that the optics of suspending Hill, who is black, for criticizing President Trump; could be interpreted as Iger siding with Trump against a black female employee? Which would leave his Democrat primary opponents with a strong and heavy argument that he’s not the right candidate to protect black people from the “cruel and racist” Republicans?
That seems like an extremely plausible theory.
And if that seems like a plausible theory, is it so far-fetched that Iger would concoct a story about substance abuse to conceal a high-profile sexual harassment scandal, which may or may not extend far beyond John Skipper?
Doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch at all, does it?
The Justice Department’s inspector general said the department suffered from “systemic” problems regarding sexual harassment complaints over the last five years, according to a Washington Post report that peculiarly failed to mention former President Barack Obama or Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
The DOJ requires “high level action” to solve the issue, which includes mishandling or ignoring complaints of sexual misconduct, according to the IG’s report. Over the last five years, the number of sexual misconduct allegations has increased and includes “senior Justice Department officials across the country,” according to WaPo.
Despite the issue increasing in severity during Obama’s second term, Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz declined to mention senior administration officials, even though the “most troubling allegations” according to the IG, happened under their watch.
One woman, who was allegedly the victim of repeated groping and “sexually charged comments” became so distressed by her harasser that she “was terrified I was going to get in the elevator and he would be in there.”
On top of complete negligence in the handling of the complaint, the DOJ allowed “potential criminal assault violations,” according to the IG report. Despite these serious allegations, the IG’s office “found no evidence in the case file that a referral was made to the [Inspector General] or any other law enforcement entity.”
Theodore Atkinson, who worked in the DOJ as an attorney in the Office of Immigration Litigation under Holder according to his LinkedIn, admitted to stalking a female coworker, hacking into her personal email account and constructing a “fictitious online profile to entice her,” the IG wrote. For his behavior, Atkinson simply received a “written reprimand and reduction in title,” with no suspension or pay cut.
Atkinson was, however, recently given a “Special Commendation Award from the Civil Division.”
The WaPo investigation describes a number of other incidents that were reported but ultimately ended with no serious reprimands, including one sexual harassment case brought against a female top prosecutor in Oregon.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct is one of the very important areas we have to focus on and take seriously because of all the reasons the public is seeing now,” the IG said. “People’s attitudes have to change. Our interest is shining light on this kind of activity.”
Superficially, Lynch appeared to make gender and sexual harassment issues a top priority. In 2015, Lynch announced $2.7 million in grants to “strengthen the Justice System’s Response to Sexual Assault,” a DOJ press release stated at the time.
“The Department of Justice is committed to doing everything it can to help prevent, investigate and prosecute these horrendous crimes – including working to ensure that our greatest partners in this effort, the state and local law enforcement officers on whom we all rely, have the tools, training and resources they need to fairly and effectively address allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence,” Lynch said.
That same year, Lynch’s department issued new guidelines “to help law enforcement agencies prevent gender bias in their response to sexual assault and domestic violence, highlighting the need for clear policies, robust training and responsive accountability systems,” a press release reads.
Exclusive: Prominent lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers
A well-known women’s rights lawyer sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump during the final months of the 2016 presidential race, according to documents and interviews.
California lawyer Lisa Bloom’s efforts included offering to sell alleged victims’ stories to TV outlets in return for a commission for herself, arranging a donor to pay off one Trump accuser’s mortgage and attempting to secure a six-figure payment for another woman who ultimately declined to come forward after being offered as much as $750,000, the clients told The Hill.
The women’s accounts were chronicled in contemporaneous contractual documents, emails and text messages reviewed by The Hill, including an exchange of texts between one woman and Bloom that suggested political action committees supporting Hillary Clinton were contacted Bloom, who has assisted dozens of women in prominent harassment cases and also defended film executive Harvey Weinstein earlier this year, represented four women considering making accusations against Trump last year. Two went public, and two declined.
In a statement to The Hill, Bloom acknowledged she engaged in discussions to secure donations for women who made or considered making accusations against Trump before last year’s election.
“Donors reached out to my firm directly to help some of the women I represented,” said Bloom, whose clients have also included accusers of Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly.
Bloom said her goal in securing money was not to pressure the women to come forward, but rather to help them relocate or arrange security if they felt unsafe during the waning days of a vitriolic election. She declined to identify any of the donors.
And while she noted she represented sexual harassment victims for free or at reduced rates, she also acknowledged a standard part of her contracts required women to pay her commissions as high as 33 percent if she sold their stories to media outlets.
“Our standard pro bono agreement for legal services provides that if a media entity offers to compensate a client for sharing his or her story we receive a percentage of those fees. This rarely happens. But, on occasion, a case generates media interest and sometimes (not always) a client may receive an appearance fee,” she said.
“As a private law firm we have significant payroll, rent, taxes, insurance and other expenses every week, so an arrangement where we might receive some compensation to defray our costs seems reasonable to us and is agreed to by our clients,” Bloom added.
Bloom told The Hill she had no contact with Clinton or her campaign, but declined to address any contacts with super PACs that supported the Democratic presidential nominee.
Josh Schwerin, the communications director for Priorities USA Action, the largest pro-Clinton super PAC, told The Hill that the group had no relationship with Bloom and had no discussions with her about supporting Trump accusers.
One Bloom client who received financial help from Bloom was New York City makeup artist Jill Harth.
The former beauty contestant manager filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997 and then withdrew it under pressure. The news media discovered the litigation during the election, and Harth’s name became public in the summer of 2016. She asked Bloom to represent her in the fall after hearing Trump describe her allegations against him as false, and became a vocal critic of Trump.
“I consider myself lucky to have had Lisa Bloom by my side after my old lawsuit resurfaced. She advised me with great competence and compassion,” Harth told The Hill.
Harth said she did not originally ask Bloom for money, even though her cosmetics business suffered from the notoriety of the campaign stories about her.
But later, Bloom arranged a small payment from the licensing of some photos to the news media, and then set up a GoFundMe.com account to raise money for Harth in October 2016. “Jill put herself out there, facing off with Donald Trump. Let’s show her some love,” the online fundraising appeal set up by Bloom’s husband declared.
The effort raised a little over $2,300.
Bloom then arranged for a donor to make a larger contribution to help Harth pay off the mortgage on her Queens apartment in New York City. The amount was under $30,000, according to a source directly familiar with Harth’s situation. Public records show Harth’s mortgage was recorded as extinguished on Dec. 19, 2016.
Harth said the payments did not affect the merits of her allegations. She alleges that during a January 1993 meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the future president pushed her up against a wall and groped her, trying to get his hands up her dress.
“Nothing that you’ve said to me about my mortgage or the Go Fund Me that was created to help me out financially affects the facts or the veracity of my 1997 federal complaint against Donald J. Trump for sexual harassment and assault,” she told The Hill.
“Having to retell my experiences of Donald Trump’s harassment is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Trump has steadfastly denied assaulting or harassing women, even after a videotape surfaced in September 2016 in which he can be heard boasting that famous men like him can grab women by the genitalia without consequence. Trump has dismissed the tape as “locker room talk.”
Harth is currently writing a memoir about her whole experience, but without Bloom’s help.
Bloom acknowledged arranging financial help for Harth, who she said had lost income because of the publicity surrounding her allegations.
“She endured a tidal wave of hate for it. It was very painful for her. And as a New York City makeup artist, Jill lost jobs after she came out publicly against Donald Trump. I believed that people wanted to donate to help her, so we set up the GoFundMe account,” she told The Hill.
The Hill does not identify the names of victims of sexual assault or harassment unless they go public on their own, like Harth.
But one woman who did not go public with allegations agreed to share her documents and talk to The Hill about her interactions with Bloom if The Hill honored its commitment to maintain her anonymity.
Both that woman and Harth, who were friends, stressed that Bloom never asked them to make any statements or allegations except what they believed to be true.
Their texts and emails indicate Bloom held a strong dislike of Trump though. Bloom is the daughter of Gloria Allred, another prominent attorney who is representing a number of women who have made accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump.
In an email to the unnamed woman, Bloom said that her story was “further evidence of what a sick predator this man is,” referring to Trump.
Documents also show Bloom’s efforts to get alleged victims of sexual assault or harassment to come out against Trump intensified as Election Day 2016 approached.
When Harth, for instance, informed Bloom she had just made a Facebook post urging other women to come forward about Trump in October 2016, the lawyer texted back: “Wow Jill that would be amazing. 27 days until the election.”
And when a potential client abruptly backed out of a pre-election news conference in which she was supposed to allege she was sexually assaulted at age 13, Bloom turned her attention to another woman.
That woman, Harth’s friend, went back and forth for weeks with Bloom in 2016 about going public with an allegation of an unsolicited advance by Trump on the 1990s beauty contest circuit.
“Give us a clear sense of what you need and we will see if it we can get it,” Bloom texted the woman a week before Election Day.
“I’m scared Lisa. I can’t relocate. I don’t like taking other people’s money,” the woman wrote to Bloom.
“Ok let’s not do this then,” Bloom responded. “We are just about out of time anyway.”
The woman then texted back demanding to know why there was a deadline. “What does time have to do with this? Time to bury Trump??? You want my story to bury trump for what? Personal gain? See that ‘s why I have trust issues!!”
The woman told The Hill in an interview that Bloom initially approached her in early October through Harth. She said she considered coming forward with her account of an unsolicited advance by Trump solely to support her friend Harth, and not because she had any consternation with Trump, who ended the advance when she asked him to stop, she said.
The woman said Bloom initially offered a $10,000 donation to the woman’s favorite church, an account backed up by text messages the two exchanged.
“Please keep the donation offer confidential except to your pastor,” Bloom wrote the woman on Oct. 14, 2016.
When Bloom found out the woman was still a supporter of Trump and associated with lawyers, friends and associates of the future president, she texted a request that jarred the woman.
“When you have a chance I suggest you delete the August 2015 Facebook post about supporting Trump,” Bloom texted. “Otherwise the reporter will ask you how you could support him after what he did to you. Your call but it will make your life easier.”
The woman declined. “I hate to say it, but i still rather have trump in office than hillary,” the woman texted back. Bloom answered, “Ok I respect that. Then don’t change anything.”
Eventually the two decided the woman’s continued support of Trump was a benefit to her narrative if she went public with her accusations, the messages show. “I love your point about being a Trump supporter too,” Bloom texted on Oct. 14, 2016.
The text messages show the woman made escalating requests for more money.
By early November, the woman said, Bloom’s offers of money from donors had grown to $50,000 to be paid personally to her, and then even higher.
“Another donor has reached out to me offering relocation/security for any woman coming forward. I’m trying to reach him,” Bloom texted the woman on Nov. 3, 2016. Later she added, “Call me I have good news.”
The woman responded that she wasn’t impressed with the new offer of $100,000 given that she had a young daughter. “Hey after thinking about all this, I need more than $100,000.00. College money would be nice” for her daughter. “Plus relocation fees, as we discussed.”
The figured jumped to $200,000 in a series of phone calls with Bloom that week, according to the woman. The support was promised to be tax-free and also included changing her identity and relocating, according to documents and interviews.
Bloom told The Hill that the woman asked for money as high as $2 million in the conversations, an amount that was a nonstarter, but the lawyer confirmed she tried to arrange donations to the woman in the low six figures.
“She asked to be compensated, citing concerns for her safety and security and over time, increased her request for financial compensation to $2 million, which we told her was a non-starter,” Bloom told The Hill. “We did relay her security concerns to donors, but none were willing to offer more than a number in the low six figures, which they felt was more appropriate to address her security and relocation expenses.”
The woman said that when she initially talked to Bloom she simply wanted to support Harth and had no interest in being portrayed as an accuser or receiving money. But when Bloom’s mention of potential compensation became more frequent, the woman said she tried to draw out the lawyer to see how high the offer might reach and who might be behind the money.
Just a few days before the election, the woman indicated she was ready to go public with her story, then landed in the hospital and fell out of contact with Bloom.
The lawyer repeatedly texted one of the woman’s friends on Nov. 4, 2016, but the friend declined to put the woman on the phone, instead sending a picture of the client in a hospital bed.
Bloom persisted, writing in a series of texts to the friend that she needed to talk to her hospitalized client because it could have “a significant impact on her life” and a “big impact on her daughter” if she did not proceed with her public statement as she had planned.
“She is in no condition for visitors,” the friend texted Bloom back.
“If you care about her you need to leave her be until she is feeling better,” the friend added in another text.
Bloom hopped on a plane from California to come see the woman on the East Coast, according to the text messages and interviews.
The next day, the woman finally reconnected with Bloom and informed her she would not move forward with making her allegations public. Bloom reacted in a string of text messages after getting the news.
“I am confused because you sent me so many nice texts Wednesday night after my other client wasted so much of my time and canceled the press conference,” Bloom texted on Nov. 5, 2016. “That meant a lot to me. Thursday you said you wanted to do this if you could be protected/relocated. I begged you not to jerk me around after what I had just gone through.”
A little later, she added another text. “You have treated me very poorly. I have treated you with great respect as much as humanly possible. I have not made a dime off your case and I have devoted a great deal of time. It doesn’t matter. I could have done so much for you. But you can’t stick to your word even when you swear you will.”
After the woman was released from the hospital, she agreed to meet Bloom at a hotel on Nov. 6, just two days before Trump unexpectedly defeated Clinton.
The woman told The Hill in an interview that at the hotel encounter, Bloom increased the offer of donations to $750,000 but still she declined to take the money.
The woman texted Bloom that day saying she didn’t mean to let her lawyer down.
“You didn’t let me down,” Bloom texted back. “You came and spoke to me and made the decision that’s right for you. That’s all I wanted.”
Bloom confirmed to The Hill that she flew to Virginia to meet with the woman after she had changed her mind several times about whether to go public with her accusations against Trump.
“We invited her to meet with us at the hotel restaurant and she accepted. Ultimately, after another heartfelt discussion, she decided that she did not want to come forward, and we respected her decision,” Bloom told The Hill.
Bloom said the donor money was never intended “to entice women to come forward against their will.”
“Nothing can be further from the truth. Some clients asked for small photo licensing fees while others wanted more to protect their security,” she said.
Bloom declined to identify the name of any donors who would have provided money for women making accusations against Trump.
Harth and the woman who decided not to go public said they never were given any names of donors.
But Bloom told the woman who declined to come forward that she had reached out to political action committees supporting Clinton’s campaign.
“It’s my understanding that there is some Clinton Super Pack [sic] that could help out if we did move forward,” the woman wrote Bloom on Oct. 11, 2016. “If we help the Clinton campaign they in turn could help or compensate us?”
Bloom wrote back, “Let’s please do a call. I have already reached out to Clinton Super PACs and they are not paying. I can get you paid for some interviews however.”
The woman who ultimately declined to come forward with Bloom told The Hill that she stayed silent for an entire year afterward because she did not want to call attention to her family.
She said she supported Trump in 2016, and that he she held no resentment about the early 1990s advance because Trump stopped it as soon as she asked him.
She said she remains friends with many people associated with the president to this day, including one of his best personal friends and a lawyer who works for one of the firms representing Trump.
The woman said, however, no one associated with the Trump White House or the president forced her to come forward or made any offers to induce her to talk to The Hill. She said she agreed to do so only after she became disgusted to learn this past October that Bloom had agreed to work in defense of Weinstein.
“I couldn’t understand how she could say she was for people like me and then represent someone like him. And then all the money stuff I knew about. I just became frustrated,” she said.
Bloom dropped her representation of Weinstein as the accusations piled up against him, telling Buzzfeed that it had been a “colossal mistake.”
Nearly from the beginning, Bloom made clear to the woman she would have to pay her law firm a commission on any fees the attorney arranged from media outlets willing to pay for the woman’s story, according to a copy of a contract as well as a text message sent to the woman.
“Outlets with which I have good relationships that may pay for your first on camera interview, revealing your name and face: Inside Edition, Dr. Phil, LawNewz.com,” Bloom texted the woman just weeks before Election Day. “My best estimate of what I could get for you would be $10-15,000 (less our 1/3 attorney fee).”
“If you are interested I would recommend Inside Edition or Dr. Phil as they are much bigger. Dr. Phil is doing a show on Trump accusers next Tuesday in LA and would fly you here and put you up in a nice hotel, and pay for your meals as well, with your daughter if you like,” Bloom’s text added. “Media moves very quickly so you need to decide and then once confirmed, you need to stick to it.”
Representatives of “Inside Edition” and “Dr. Phil” said they did not pay any Trump accusers for appearances last year.
Bloom’s firm sent the woman a “media-related services” contract to represent her for “speaking out against Donald Trump” that laid out business terms for selling a story in the most direct terms.
“You will compensate the Firm thirty-three percent (33%) of the total fee that you collect, whether the media deal or licensing fees is for print, Internet, radio, television, film or any other medium,” Bloom’s proposed contract, dated Oct. 10, 2016, read. The woman said she signed the contract.
When Bloom found out in early November that the woman and the friend had discussions with CBS News about doing an interview on their own, the lawyer texted back: “CBS does not pay for stories.”
A little later Bloom sent another text suggesting the arrangements she was making could be impacted by the unauthorized media contacts. “You and your friends should not be shopping the story it will come back to bite you,” Bloom texted. “And this whole thing we have worked so hard to make happen will go away.”
Kansas Dem Andrea Ramsey, accused of sexual harassment, will drop out of US House race
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District.
She was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights
Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.
“In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,” Ramsey said in a statement Friday. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.
“If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,” said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.
Emily’s List said in a statement on Friday that the group supported Ramsey’s decision to drop out of the race and wished her well.
Ramsey was not a party to the lawsuit or the settlement, although she’s referred to throughout the complaint as Andrea Thomas, her name before she married her husband in late 2006. She denied the allegations to the Star in two interviews over the last two weeks and said the lawsuit is surfacing now for political purposes.
Ramsey repeatedly said that she was not aware of any settlement in the case, but said that if she had been a party to the case she would have opposed settling.
“Had those allegations, those false allegations, been brought against me directly instead of the company I would have fought to exonerate my name. I never would’ve settled,” Ramsey said in an interview on Thursday. “And I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation.”
Individual supervisors are not named as defendants in federal sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits because they are not considered employers under Title VII, the law that protects employees from discrimination, harassment and retaliation for color, race, sex and national origin.
The lawsuit has been circulating in Kansas political circles as the first-time candidate runs for Congress amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the political, entertainment and journalism industries.
The national Democratic Party is targeting Kansas’ 3rd District as part of its push to reclaim control of the House. Yoder is one of 23 GOP representatives seeking re-election in districts where Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Republican Donald Trump.
The allegations against Ramsey were outlined in a lawsuit filed by Funkhouser against LabOne and in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Reached by phone, Funkhouser would not discuss the case.
“All I can say is the matter has been resolved,” he said.
In the EEOC complaint, which alleged sex discrimination and retaliation by LabOne, Funkhouser accused Ramsey of subjecting him to “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” beginning in September 2004, when he was a LabOne human resources manager.
In late March 2005, Ramsey made sexual advances toward him on a business trip, Funkhouser alleged in the complaint.
“After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,” he wrote. “In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.”
Ramsey even moved him out of his office into a cubicle far from her office, Funkhouser wrote.
Before he rejected her advances, Ramsey “repeatedly told me she heard great things from others about my performance,” Funkhouser wrote. “After I rejected her, she told me she now was hearing bad things about my performance and on June 13, 2005, terminated my employment.”
The EEOC closed its file on Funkhouser’s charges of discrimination and retaliation in October 2005, noting that an investigation was unable to conclude whether any statutes had been violated. The document did not certify that LabOne was in compliance with employment law, however, and informed Funkhouser that he had a right to sue the company.
Funkhouser then sued LabOne in federal court.
LabOne denied the allegations and said Funkhouser’s termination was “non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory.”
Ramsey told The Star she made the decision to eliminate Funkhouser’s job in conjunction with LabOne management.
“It became clear to me that he wasn’t managing his subordinates adequately,” she said. “… He didn’t have open lines of communication with his subordinates and furthermore there was this additional layer of management.”
She also said in a second interview that she has no memory of the business trip, noting that 12 years had passed.
The lawsuit was still pending in April 2006 when Ramsey retired from LabOne. At the time, LabOne was being acquired by Quest Diagnostics, a company Ramsey had worked for until 2004. She told the Star she had no interest in working for such a large company again, and she wanted to spend more time with her children, who were 8 and 10 at the time.
Later that month, Ramsey took a part-time job as senior counsel for Black & Veatch, an international engineering firm based in Overland Park.
In July 2006, LabOne and Funkhouser agreed to dismiss the case without the possibility of bringing it again.
Quest Diagnostics declined to comment on behalf of LabOne, saying its policy is not to comment on litigation.
Shirley Gaufin, who was head of HR at Black & Veatch from 2002 to 2011, described Ramsey as an exceptional colleague. “All I heard was praise,” said Gaufin, who has donated to Ramsey’s campaign.
Ramsey left Black & Veatch in October 2012 after six years as the company’s employment attorney.
She served as board chair at the nonprofit Turner House Children’s Clinic in Wyandotte County from 2015 until she stepped down in May to launch her congressional campaign.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article189931704.html#storylink=cpy
Prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski accused of sexual misconduct
A former clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski said the powerful and well-known jurist, who for many years served as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, called her into his office several times and pulled up pornography on his computer, asking if she thought it was photoshopped or if it aroused her sexually.
Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said the porn was not related to any case. One set of images she remembered was of college-age students at a party where “some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.” Another was a sort of digital flip book that allowed users to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to create an image of a naked woman.
Bond is one of six women — all former clerks or more junior staffers known as externs in the 9th Circuit — who alleged to The Washington Post in recent weeks that Kozinski, now 67 and still serving as a judge on the court, subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. She is one of two former clerks who said Kozinski asked them to view porn in his chambers.
In a statement, Kozinski said: “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
Kozinski provided the statement after The Post called and emailed a spokesman with a detailed list of the allegations this story would include. After the story posted online, the judge told the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks” and, “If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.”
When Bond was clerking, Kozinski was on the precipice of becoming chief judge for the 9th Circuit — the largest federal appeals court circuit in the country, handling cases for a large swath of the western United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. The other people who alleged that Kozinski behaved inappropriately toward them worked in the 9th Circuit both before and after her, up to 2012.
Bond said she knew that she was to come to the judge’s office when her phone beeped twice. She said she tried to answer Kozinski’s inquiries as succinctly and matter-of-factly as possible. Bond was then in her early 30s and is now 41.
If the question was about photoshopping, Bond said, she would focus on minor details of the images. If Kozinski asked whether the images aroused her, Bond said, she would respond: “No, this kind of stuff doesn’t do anything for me. Is there anything else you need?” She said she recalled three instances when the judge showed her porn in his office.
“I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,” Bond said.
Bond, who went on to clerk for the Supreme Court and now works as a romance novelist writing under the name Courtney Milan, and another clerk, Emily Murphy, who worked for a different judge on the 9th Circuit and is now a law professor, described their experiences in on-the-record interviews. The other four women spoke on the condition that their names and some other identifying information not be published, out of fear that they might face retaliation from Kozinski or others.
Kozinski, who served as the chief judge on the 9th Circuit from 2007 to 2014, remains a prominent judge, well known in the legal community for his colorful written opinions. His clerks often win prestigious clerkships at the Supreme Court.
Murphy, who clerked for Judge Richard Paez, said Kozinski approached her when she was talking with a group of other clerks at a reception at a San Francisco hotel in September 2012. The group had been discussing training regimens, and Murphy said she commented that the gym in the 9th Circuit courthouse was nice because other people were seldom there.
Kozinski, according to Murphy and two others present at the time who spoke to The Post, said that if that were the case, she should work out naked. Those in the group tried to change the subject, Murphy and the others present said, but the judge kept steering the conversation toward the idea of Murphy exercising without clothes.
“It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well,” Murphy said. “That was what was humiliating about it.”
Bond, similarly, provided emails showing that she told a friend what had happened at least as of 2008. The friend, fellow romance novelist Eve Ortega, provided the same emails. She confirmed that Bond had told her years ago that Kozinski made inappropriate sexual comments and showed her porn.
Kozinski has previously been embroiled in controversies related to sexually explicit material.
In 2008, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the judge had maintained an email list that he used to distribute crude jokes, some of them sexually themed, and that he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic images.
A judicial investigation ultimately found that Kozinski did not intend to allow the public to see the material and that, instead, the judge and his son were careless in protecting a private server from being accessible on the Internet.
Anthony J. Scirica, then the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, wrote at the time that Kozinski’s “conduct exhibiting poor judgment with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary.”
According to Scirica’s report, Kozinski said that he used the server to keep a variety of items he received by email, including TV commercials, video clips, cartoons, games and song parodies.
Of the sexually explicit files, Kozinski testified: “Some I thought were odd or funny or bizarre, but mostly I don’t have a very good reason for holding onto them. I certainly did not send them to anyone else or ask anyone to send me similar files,” according to Scirica’s report.
Kozinski also testified that he “does not visit and has no interest in pornographic websites,” according to Scirica’s report. He separately apologized for any embarrassment he had caused in maintaining the email list and said he had stopped sending the jokes.
Bond said the images Kozinski showed her seemed to come from his private server, because he pulled them from a site containing the term “kozinski.com.”
The other Kozinski clerk who said the judge showed her porn declined to provide specifics out of fear that Kozinski would be able to identify her. Bond said the judge also showed her a chart he claimed he and his friends from college had made to list the women with whom they had had sexual relations.
Bond said that either Kozinski or his administrative assistant reached out to her around the time of the news reporting on his private server, asking whether she would be willing to defend his character. She wrote to Ortega about the inquiry in 2008, according to emails the women shared with The Post, and Ortega responded that it “sounds like a very bad idea to me.”
“I know he brought you into his office to show you porn, I know he made sexual innuendos to you. I know this because you told me so in DC, and you even used the words sexual harassment,” Ortega wrote. “You said you would warn off other women thinking of clerking for him. And if there’s a woman out there he harassed worse than you, do you really want to be pitted against her? Because that’s what it would be. I’m worried that this is what he’s asking you to do — to be the female, intelligent face of his defense and make whoever it is accusing him look like a stupid slut, and then he hopefully never has to actually address those allegations.”
Kozinski was born in Romania to Holocaust survivors in 1950, and the family fled the communist state when he was a boy. Decades ago, long before he was a federal judge, he appeared on the television show “The Dating Game,” planting a kiss on a surprised young woman who selected him for a date. He is married and has three sons.
Kozinski was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He is an atypical federal appeals court judge — authoring irreverent opinions and not shying, as many of his colleagues do, from media appearances.
He styled one opinion in 2012 not as a traditional concurrence or dissent, but instead as “disagreeing with everyone.” He famously wrote during a trademark dispute between the toy company Mattel and the record company that produced the 1997 song “Barbie Girl”: “The parties are advised to chill.”
In more recent years, Kozinski wrote that using lethal injections to impose the death penalty was “a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” and he told the Los Angeles Times, “I personally think we should go to the guillotine, but shooting is probably the right way to go.”
The Post reached out to dozens of Kozinski’s former clerks and externs for this report. Many of those who returned messages said that they experienced no harassment of any kind and that their experience — which entailed grueling work into the wee hours of the morning every day — was a rewarding one. They noted Kozinski’s wry sense of humor.
Those who talked to The Post about negative experiences said that they thought his behavior went beyond bad jokes or that they felt personally targeted.
A former Kozinski extern said the judge once made a comment about her hair and looked her body up and down “in a less-than-professional way.” That extern said Kozinski also once talked with her about a female judge stripping.
“I didn’t want to be alone with him,” the former extern said.
A different former extern said she, similarly, had at least two conversations “that had sexual overtones directed at me,” and she told friends about them at the time. One of the friends, also a former extern, confirmed that the woman had told her about the remarks — though both declined to detail them for fear of being identified.
One former 9th Circuit clerk said she was at a dinner in Seattle, seated next to Kozinski, when he “kind of picked the tablecloth up so that he could see the bottom half of me, my legs.” She said Kozinski remarked, “I wanted to see if you were wearing pants because it’s cold out.” The former clerk said she was wearing pants at the time. The incident, she said, occurred in late 2011 or early 2012.
“It made me uncomfortable, and it didn’t seem appropriate,” said the former clerk, who worked for a different judge.
All of the women The Post interviewed said they did not file formal complaints at the time. Bond said Kozinski had so vigorously stressed the idea of judicial confidentiality — that what is discussed in chambers cannot be revealed to the outside — that she questioned even years later whether she could share what had happened with a therapist, even though she had already talked with Ortega about it.
Bond said Kozinski worked his clerks so hard that “there was no thought that I could see him as anything other than in complete control,” and she feared that not leaving with a good recommendation from him might jeopardize her career.
“I did think about walking away and concluded I just didn’t know what I would do if I did,” Bond said.
The other former Kozinski clerk who said the judge asked her to watch porn in his chambers said she both feared what he might do and knew that a complaint was unlikely to strip him of his influence.
“I was afraid,” the former clerk said. “I mean, who would I tell? Who do you even tell? Who do you go to?”
Murphy said she discussed what had happened with the judge for whom she was clerking, and he was supportive of her filing a complaint. But because the complaint would first go to Kozinski himself, then be referred elsewhere, Murphy said she chose not to proceed. The judge, Paez, declined to comment for this report through a representative.
As a judge, Kozinski has addressed the topic of sexual harassment in important ways. In 1991, he joined an opinion that decided such cases should be judged from the perspective of the victims, using what was then called the “reasonable woman” standard. The opinion, written by then-Judge Robert R. Beezer, noted pointedly, “Conduct that many men consider unobjectionable may offend many women.”
Beezer died in 2012. Kozinski himself wrote about sexual harassment in 1992, commenting on how legal remedies could come with unforeseen consequences.
He wrote that men “must be aware of the boundaries of propriety and learn to stay well within them,” while women “must be vigilant of their rights, but must also have some forgiveness for human foibles: misplaced humor, misunderstanding, or just plain stupidity.”
He acknowledged, though, that the problem of harassment was a real one.
“But who knew, who understood, that it was quite so pervasive,” Kozinski wrote. “Apparently most women did, while most men did not. It was the best-kept secret of modern times.”