A Republican congressman from New York is accused of rubbing the back of a lobbyist and unbuttoning her bra while drunk in a Minneapolis pub in 2017.
US Representative Tom Reed, a Western New York Republican, is accused of rubbing the back of a lobbyist and unbuttoning her bra, without her consent, at a Minneapolis pub networking event in 2017.
The lobbyist, Nicolette Davis, told The Washington Post that Reed appeared to be drunk as he stroked her back and leg as the two sat side by side during a networking trip.
Reed fumbled for her bra before pinching the clasp on her blouse and unbuttoning it, then moving his hand to her thigh, he said.
A scared Davis, 25, on her first trip as a junior lobbyist for Aflac insurance company, texted a friend and coworker that “a drunk congresswoman is rubbing my back.”
“HELP, HELP,” he texted before the person sitting next to him responded to his request by pulling Reed out of the restaurant, according to his account, published Friday.
Reed, elected to Congress in 2010, declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press. In a statement issued by his office, he said: “This account of my actions is not accurate.”
Reed has been among members of Congress calling for the resignation of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo over allegations of sexual harassment. In late February, Reed said he was seriously considering running for governor against Cuomo.
Davis, now a 29-year-old second lieutenant in the US Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, contacted The Post via a tip line on February 11, the newspaper said.
Davis said he’s talking as he thinks about the kind of platoon leader he wants to be after graduating from field artillery school later this month.
“I need to always act in good conscience and set the right example for the soldiers I will lead, including younger women,” he said. “I hope it allows people who have been through similar experiences to feel safe enough to say something.”
Her story was corroborated by the friend Davis texted from the restaurant, Jessica Strieter Elting, who heads Aflac’s political affairs team in Washington, DC.
Strieter Elting told The Post that Davis was shocked by the encounter.
“I felt terrible for her, being in that position while she was trying to do her job,” said Strieter Elting.
Davis also reported the incident, at the time, to his supervisor at the company, then-vice president and attorney Brad Knox.
Knox said he remembered Davis telling him that Reed had been drinking and had discarded an item of his clothing. He said she refused when asked if she wanted to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee.
Reed is a former mayor of Corning, New York. In Congress, he co-chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus, whose 24 Republican members and 24 Democrats meet weekly to discuss issues.
In response to the #MeToo movement, Reed said sexual harassment training was a basic requirement in his office and that he had taken it up. He also backed bipartisan legislation in 2018 that requires lawmakers to be personally liable for settlements resulting from harassment.
The statement provided by Reed’s office read: “I agree with my background.”
Commenting on the allegations against Cuomo last month, Reed had said, “These incidents of sexual harassment and pattern of abuse are abhorrent and have absolutely no place in our society, let alone at the highest levels of government.”