A Connecticut woman has come forward to accuse former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate touching at a political fundraiser in Greenwich in 2009, the second allegation of its kind against the potential 2020 presidential contender in recent days.
The accuser, Amy Lappos, a 43-year old non-profit freelancer, recounted the unsettling allegations in an interview with The Courant on Monday. “It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos said. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Lappos reportedly detailed the alleged incident in a post shared to the Facebook page “Connecticut Women in Politics” on Sunday as Nevada Democrat Assemblywoman Lucy Flores appeared on several cable news networks discussing her own allegations against the former vice president. In a revealing essay for The Cut, Flores alleged Biden kissed her on the back of her head and smelled her hair during a campaign event in 2014.
Lappos said the alleged incident occurred during a 2009 fundraiser for Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), who she served as a congressional aide at the time. She said Himes was not present when Biden is said to have inappropriately touched her.
The Courant reports:
The $1,000-per-plate luncheon with Biden took place at Oct. 5, 2009, at the Cliffdale Road home of affordable housing developer Ron Moelis. Future Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy were in attendance, as well as future Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Biden spoke for about 20 minutes outside the home on a terrace, which was open to the media. Reporters were not allowed inside the house, which is where Lappos said the incident took place. Lappos appeared in three photos with Biden at the event, which she said were taken after his remarks and before the incident. She said she was in the kitchen with four to five other volunteers, when Biden moved toward her. In her Facebook post, Lappos used the pseudonym Alice Paul, the suffragist who championed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote and the Equal Rights Amendment, to discuss her exchange with Biden.
“Biden did something similar to me at a fundraiser in Greenwich when I was a congressional aide,” Lappos’ Facebook post read. “I’m really disappointed to see this [Facebook] post ask ‘thoughts’ as if the grossness of men invading women’s boundaries to sniff and touch is debatable. And shame on some of the women here excusing this as boys being boys or it’s not as bad as Trump. I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable. We need to hold our men to the same standards we hold all men.”
Lappos said it would be hypocritical of Democrats to turn a blind eye to Biden’s alleged behavior while criticizing President Donald Trump’s past interactions with women.
“If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” she argued. “The same goes for the other men who have thrown their hat in the ring. Women are 52 percent of the population. We are not a minority, we are the majority. It is time we are represented as such. After 45 male presidents it is time we elect a woman.”
Lappos’ allegations come one day after Biden said in his statement that he “never” touched anyone inappropriately, yet he “may not recall these moments the same way.”
“I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women,” said Biden. “I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve. I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.”
On Monday, Bill Russo, a Biden spokesperson, issued another statement addressing the controversy surrounding photos of the possible 2020 candidate interacting awkwardly with women, decrying some of the images as “smears and forgeries.”
“The Vice President has issued a statement affirming that in all the many years in public life that he has shaken a hand, given or received a hug, or laid his hand on a shoulder to express concern, support; or reassurance, he never intended to cause discomfort,” said Russo. “He has said that he believes that women who have experienced any such discomfort, regardless of intention, should speak and be heard, and that he will be among those who listen.”
“But the important conversation about these issues are not advanced, nor are any criticisms of Vice President Biden validated, by the continued misrepresentation of the Carter and Coons moments, or a failure to be vigilant about a cottage industry of lies,” he added.