Cain continues campaign amid controversy
WASHINGTON (AP) - A lawyer for one of Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain's accusers declared Friday that she had alleged "several incidents of sexual harassment" in a complaint filed more than a decade ago.
The lawyer, Joel Bennett, said his client accepted a financial settlement as part of an agreement to leave her job at the National Restaurant Association shortly after lodging the complaint. Bennett did not name the woman, who he said had decided not "to relive the specifics" of the incidents in a public forum.
Cain has denied ever sexually harassing anyone and is trying to overcome the controversy and resume normal campaign activities. He is also set to appear on Jimmy Kimmel's show on Monday, according to reports.
In a statement late in the day, the restaurant association said Cain had disputed the woman's allegations at the time she made them more than a decade ago. He was CEO of the organization at the time.
Bennett's comments to reporters outside his law office came at a time Cain was making a concerted effort to show he would no longer allow the controversy to dominate his unlikely challenge for the GOP presidential nomination.
Cain drew cheers of support Friday from conservative activists as he delivered a speech focused on the U.S. economy. He is trying to convert his meteoric rise in opinion polls into a campaign organization robust enough to compete with Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and other rivals in early primary and caucus states.
In an appearance before the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, the career businessman pitched his trademark 9-9-9 economic program and referred only elliptically to the controversy that has overshadowed his campaign in recent days. "I've been in Washington all week, and I've attracted a little bit of attention," he said to knowing laughter from his audience.
Not everyone sounded ready to let it fade, despite Cain's repeated denials.
In Georgia, the state party chairwoman, Sue Everhart, said, "I think he has to completely put it behind him or it will continue to be a problem. He's got to do the housekeeping duties and clean this up."
She suggested Cain should coax the restaurant trade group to permit one of his accusers to make a public statement. That was before the woman's lawyer read her statement, with the trade group's permission.
The accuser, whose identity has not been made public, signed a confidentiality agreement when she left the organization more than a decade ago after accusing Cain, then the trade group's head, of sexual harassment. At the time of her departure, she received a financial settlement. The lawyer declined to say how much it had been.
At least two other women have made similar allegations, and a former pollster for the restaurant association has said he witnessed yet another episode.
The controversy surfaced as Cain, a black man in a party that draws its support overwhelmingly from white voters, was rising to the top in public opinion polls. His campaign announced Friday that donations so far this week have totaled $1.6 million, described as a fourfold increase over the average take for an entire month.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.