NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A woman running to flip a Kansas congressional seat from red to blue next year is ending her campaign after allegations surfaced that she had sexually harassed, and then fired, a former subordinate.
Andrea Ramsey, 56, is a retired business executive who worked in the non-profit sector before deciding to run for office as a Democrat in next year's congressional midterm elections. She was one of a growing number of women inspired to seek office in the wake of President Donald Trump's election.
But this month, The Kansas City Star newspaper asked her about a 2005 lawsuit that accused her of sexually harassing a man at LabOne, where she was the executive vice-president of human resources, and then firing him after he rejected her advances, a claim Ramsey denies. The suit was against the company, not Ramsey specifically, and it was settled in 2006.
"Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee's position," Ramsey said in a letter posted to Facebook on Friday. "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."
Ramsey is the rare - perhaps the only - woman in public life to face consequences from a sexual harassment accusation in the weeks since journalistic exposés spawned the #MeToo movement.
She said that her political opponents were using the false allegations against her, and she criticised the Democratic Party for implementing a "zero tolerance standard".
"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," Ramsey added.
Meredith Kelly, communications director of the DCCC, said in an emailed statement: "If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office."
Ramsey was one of several Democrats running to contest the House seat held by Representative Kevin Yoder in next year's midterm elections.
Ramsey has never held public office, but said she was emboldened to try when Yoder voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.