Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is one of the leading sponsors of the “Believe All Women” mantra. She is one of the cheerleaders for eviscerating due process for those accused of sexual misconduct in the military or on college campuses.
But when those accusations are lodged against a man she knows and works with, a different attitude is taken.
A former female staffer in Gillibrand’s Washington, D.C. office, according to Politico, told her superiors that a fellow staffer was sexually harassing her by hitting on her and making derogatory remarks and jokes about women in the office. Gillibrand’s deputy chief of staff Anne Bradley and general counsel Keith Castaldo investigated the woman’s claims but did not fire the male staffer, who was Gillibrand’s longtime driver and “military adviser.”
Gillibrand was close to the accused male staffer — she even officiated at his wedding, according to Politico’s detailed reporting. The female staffer was much newer.
Still, Gillibrand’s whole persona is about believing women, and her office’s approach to the situation was not in line with the senator’s demands for investigations.
First, fellow staffers conducted the investigation, something Gillibrand has argued against for the military. Second, the accused male wasn’t fired, he was denied a promotion, had his desk moved, and given a “final warning,” according to Politico.
The staffer who made the accusation told the news outlet that Bradley and Gillibrand’s chief of staff, Jess Fassler, told her the situation was a “misinterpretation” and basically just a “he said, she said,” which is why the accused wasn’t fired.
Gillibrand’s office responded by saying it was being mischaracterized, and that it was never treated as a “he said, she said.”
“This case was never viewed as ‘he said, she said.’ Upon conclusion of the full and thorough investigation, it was determined that the evidence revealed employee misconduct that, while inappropriate, did not constitute sexual harassment,” the office told Politico.
Gillibrand through a statement told the outlet that the investigation lined up with her beliefs.
“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability,” the statement said. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”
This statement represents the conundrum of Gillibrand’s #MeToo demands. She says “we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place,” but if we already believe someone, why is an investigation even needed?
Gillibrand’s efforts on sexual harassment and assault amount to believing women would never lie about these things and denying the presumption of innocence to accused men. Of course, that all disappears when she knows the man being accused.
When Politico reached out to Gillibrand’s office two weeks ago with additional allegations against the male staffer, her office fired him within a week.
As for the original accuser, three weeks after she made the allegations, she resigned, believing the office had failed to uphold the standards she believed in.
“I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.’ Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation,” the woman wrote in her resignation letter to Fassler and Castaldo.