A female Democrat running for the U.S. House in Kansas plans to drop out of the race Friday after a published report raised questions about a 2005 lawsuit in which a former male employee accused her of making unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate sexual comments.
The alleged misconduct occurred while Andrea Ramsey, the Democratic congressional candidate, worked as executive vice president of human resources at LabOne, according to the Kansas City Star. Ramsey is a candidate in the race to challenge Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., in 2018.
Gary Funkhouser filed the lawsuit against LabOne in 2005, along with a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He and the company reportedly reached a settlement, according to the Star, and the case was dismissed after mediation.
Ramsey denied the allegations in the lawsuit, but her campaign said she will drop out of the congressional race.
“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 to the paper. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee 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.”
Meredith Kelly, a spokeswoman with the DCCC, told the Star any person who is guilty of sexual assault or sexual harassment “should not hold public office.”
In his complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Funkhouser, a human resources manager at LabOne, said Ramsey made “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” to him starting in September 2004.
Months later, she allegedly made sexual advances toward him while they were traveling for work, Funkhouser said.
He claimed Ramsey retaliated against him when he told her he didn’t want to have a sexual relationship. Funkhouser was terminated in June 2005, according to the Kansas City Star.
Ramsey told the paper she didn’t know the case had been settled and said she would not have agreed to a settlement had the case been brought directly against her.
She also said she would have sued the former employee for defamation.
As the #MeToo movement has risen to national prominence, numerous national officeholders have been accused of inappropriate behavior.
Three members of Congress — Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. — have resigned due to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Ramsey appears to be the first woman in national politics to face such accusations.