Presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand failed to fire an aide until another aide accusing him of sexual harassment resigned in protest and an investigation exposed the controversy publicly.
Gillibrand has used the 2020 stage to advocate for the #MeToo movement, but is taking fire after evidence of how her own Senate office handled sexual harassment allegations last year.
Last July, a female Gillibrand Senate staffer in her mid-20s raised alarm to persistent inappropriate conduct from an older, married aide close to Gillibrand, Politico reported Monday. She said he began making unwanted advances and demeaning language after he received word he would be promoted and made her supervisor. Three weeks later she resigned in protest over how her claims were being handled.
The report stated that the accused, Abbas Malik was not fired until last week, a week after the outlet launched its own investigation and contacted Gillibrand’s office.
Politico reported Monday that two weeks ago it:
Presented [Gillibrand’s] office with its own findings of additional allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct by Malik. Among the claims were that he made a “joke” about rape to a female colleague — a person whom the office had failed to contact last summer despite repeated urgings by Malik’s accuser to reach out to the person.
Only after the outlet’s contact did the senator’s office launch a new investigation and fire Malik, eight months after the original allegations.
The accuser said in an interview about coming forward, “When I had the courage to speak up about my harasser, I was belittled by her office and treated like an inconvenience,” according to the report.
Gillibrand’s office has put staffers through three sexual harassment training sessions, according to the report that identified one that occurred last July.
Malik has worked close to Gillibrand for years according to the report which notes his time as her driver and that Gillibrand officiated Malik’s wedding. He was close enough to the Senator at one point to have keys to her house and some staffers called him “the keeper of her purse.”
The report stated that Gillibrand’s advisor’s asserted they did take the woman’s initial claims seriously, launched an investigation and ultimately determined, “the allegations did not meet the standard of sexual harassment.” They said he was punished for the allegations that were substantiated.
While Gillibrand’s deputy chief of staff Anne Bradley and general counsel Keith Castaldo led the investigation, they only spoke with current employees, not the former employees the accuser said could verify her allegations.