A Democrat running for Congress has been forced to drop out of the race after sexual harassment allegations surface. Unlike just about every other situation, however, the accused is a woman.
Andrea Ramsey was challenging Republican Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional district, with the election coming next year. After a male former employee claimed that Ramsey sexually harassed him over a decade ago, the Democratic party pulled their support, forcing her to drop out.
Even though Ramsey denies the allegations, the Democratic party chose not to stand behind this particular woman.
Ramsey called the allegations made by her former employee at LabOne, Gary Funkhouser, “a lie.”
“Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee’s position,” Ramsey wrote. “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.”
Funkhouser worked under Ramsey at LabOne where she was an executive vice president of human resources. Funkhouser claimed Ramsey came on to him in 2005 during a business trip, the Kansas City Star reported.
“After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,” he wrote in a complaint. “In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.”
Funkhouser claimed Ramsey had his work station moved out of her office.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission closed the case on Funkhouser’s claims, stating it was unable to determine if any “statutes had been violated.”
Funkhouser then sued LabOne in federal court and both parties agreed to dismiss the case in 2006. Multiple sources told the Kansas City Star that Funkhouser and LabOne had reached a settlement.
The allegations resurfaced after the Kansas City Star questioned Ramsey about them.
Ramsey said the national Democratic Party declined to support her over the lawsuit.
Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group, which supported and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Ramsey’s campaign, said they supported the Democratic hopeful’s decision.
Here are selected portions of Ramsey’s statement withdrawing from the race, posted to Facebook.
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. 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.
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. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the allegations and decided not to pursue the complaint; the man later decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. Because I wasn’t a named party, I didn’t have any opportunity to participate in its resolution.
A man sued my company twelve years ago and made false accusations against me. Had the false allegations been brought against me directly, I would have fought to exonerate my name and my reputation. I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation. 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. And the due process that I love, that drew me to the field of law, is totally denied.
My opponents have chosen to use these false allegations against me for political purposes, not only engaging in a whisper campaign, but also contacting political and news organizations. These false allegations are disgraceful and demean the moment this country is in. For far too long, complaints of sexual harassment have been completely ignored. The timely and thorough investigation of complaints is a very good thing. We are seeing real change in how harassment is being handled from Topeka to Washington. We should always make it as safe as possible for people who have been wronged to come forward, and I have based my professional career as an employment lawyer and human resources executive on that principle.
In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented 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. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.
Here is the Facebook post with Ramsey’s full statement.
It is unclear who Democrats will replace Andrea Ramsey with, if anyone.