Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during an interview on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Florence, S.C. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)
As my colleague Streiff reported earlier, Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault by a woman named Tara Reade who used to work as an assistant to him.
Reade describes a pattern of behavior and an incident in which Biden allegedly pushed her up against the wall and then penetrated her with his fingers. She says she told her mother, brother, and a friend who worked in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office about what had happened. Her mother has since died, but the friend and her brother confirmed to The Intercept that she had told them at the time.
Reade actually came forward with part of the story last year, but says she went quiet on it when she was attacked by Biden supporters and accused of doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin. She’s been, variously a supporter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
But she decided that she had to speak out. Knowing that she was going to be hit with a lot of backlash, she went to the group Time’s Up, which says it provides help and support for survivors of harassment and assault to pay legal fees and tell their stories.
As The Intercept notes:
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. It was launched in December 2017 and was the most successful GoFundMe in the site’s history, raising more than $24 million. Among the accusers backed so far by Time’s Up are some of those assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, as well scores of others with allegations against executives in male-dominated industries. The group has committed more than $10 million toward funding cases.
Reade said when she initially spoke with a program director at NWLC in January of this year, that initially they seemed very interested in helping with the case, that director even referred her to outside attorneys and indicated that they might be able to help with funding PR and legal assistance.
But after she spoke with the program director and Director Sharyn Tejani in February, she was then told they could not help her because Biden was a candidate for federal office. They claimed that helping her could then jeopardize their nonprofit status.
Here’s the official statement on the matter from NWLC spokesperson, Maria Patrick:
“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the National Women’s Law Center is restricted in how it can spend its funds, including restrictions that pertain to candidates running for election,” Patrick responded, when asked why the organizing declined to provide funds to Reade. “Our decision on whether or not to provide certain types of support to an individual should not be interpreted as our validation or doubt of the truthfulness of the person’s statements. Regardless, our support of workers who come forward regarding workplace sexual harassment remains unwavering.”
But The Intercept cites Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, saying she thinks that excuse doesn’t quite work, calling it an overly “conservative” approach to the matter. Aprill said as long as they adhered to their general principles of action it wouldn’t be a problem. “As a legal matter, if the group is clear regarding the criteria used as to whom it is taking to court, show that these are long-established neutral criteria, and they are being applied to individuals completely independent of their running for office, it would not be a violation of tax law. Groups are allowed to continue to do what they have always done.”
The Intercept says Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund’s PR firm is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign.
But there’s more. One of SKDKnickerbocker’s partners, also CNN analyst and cofounder of Time’s Up is Hilary Rosen who has also been supporting Biden on media. Another one of Time’s Up’s cofounders and the CEO is Tina Tchen, a former top aide to both Barack and Michelle Obama. You may remember Tchen from the Jussie Smollett matter during which she allegedly called State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on behalf of the Smollett family.
So were the organization being overly careful or did they just not want to help someone against Biden? And if the argument is that interjecting oneself could be viewed as being political or being involved with a campaign, how about not interjecting oneself when you normally might? That tends not to look good either.