Speed Reads

2014 midterms

Former GOP staffer claims Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst 'did and said nothing' after witnessing sexual harassment

Kristen Anderson, who worked as a communications director for the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus, filed a lawsuit last week against the caucus alleging sexual harassment by male colleagues, and reporting that her female superiors overlooked the behavior.

"By way of just one example," Anderson's suit alleges, "Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak and Sen. Sandra Greiner of Keota witnessed sexual innuendo and inappropriate behavior exhibited by their male colleagues and did and said nothing while female staffers stood by unable to say anything."

Anderson does not name Ernst as a defendant in the lawsuit, but the Republican Iowa Senate candidate released a statement, reported by Mother Jones, denying the allegation. A spokeswoman for Ernst suggested that the lawsuit is a smear campaign by Democrat candidate Bruce Braley, which his supporters denied. Michael J. Carroll, the attorney representing Anderson, said there were no political leanings one way or the other, and that "while the lawsuit mentions state Sen. Ernst, it also mentions many other state senators, including Democratic senators."

Anderson's lawsuit claims that she was fired after filing her sexual harassment complaints in 2013 with a superior in the caucus. A Republican staffer responding to the allegations said Anderson was let go because of substandard work.