Wednesday may have been International Women’s Day, but Sen. Jeanne Shaheen didn’t let allegations from women about the bad behavior of men keep her from supporting President Joe Biden’s nominees.
Earlier this week, New Hampshire’s senior senator was credited, along with her colleague Sen. Maggie Hassan, with pushing ahead the nomination of Michael Delaney to the federal bench. Then on Wednesday, Shaheen helped rescue former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to become ambassador to India in the face of complaints by women that his office promoted a culture of workplace harassment.
Shaheen, 76, hasn’t been shy about her support for Delaney, a political ally and Democratic donor. Delaney represented St. Paul’s, the elite Concord, N.H. boarding school when it was sued by a female student who was sexually assaulted on campus.
The lawsuit claimed the assault was a “direct result of [St. Paul’s] fostering, permitting, and condoning a tradition of ritualized statutory rape.” The accused student was convicted of several misdemeanors and the school settled with the victim for an undisclosed amount. Part of Delaney’s strategy was to ask the court to strip the teenage assault victim, Chessy Prout, of her anonymity, a tactic for which he was excoriated by victims’ advocacy groups.
But not Shaheen. She continues to support Delaney’s nomination to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Shaheen also stepped up for Garcetti, whose embattled nomination has been on hold for nearly two years as both Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns about sexual harassment charges within his office.
According to the left-leaning news site Salon, witnesses have “corroborated allegations that Garcetti knew his longtime top aide, Rick Jacobs, routinely cowed City Hall staffers by kissing them on the mouth, massaging them, locking them in long and unwanted bear hugs, grabbing their buttocks, and using crude sexual and racist language in the office.”
Salon cited texts, emails, and other documentary evidence they say show “abusive behavior was common knowledge in the Garcetti administration and that the mayor not only knew about it but often witnessed it himself and did nothing to stop it.”
A Senate investigation conducted after Garcetti’s nomination also found the mayor “knew or should have known” of the sexual harassment happening in his office at the hands of his key advisor — sometimes, according to the findings, right in front of Garcetti himself.
But once again, that didn’t stop Shaheen from joining all of her fellow Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and voting to approve Biden’s nominee. (Two Republicans also backed Garcetti.)
“Today’s vote, on International Women’s Day no less, shows a real disconnect between the rhetoric we hear from elected leaders who claim to support victims of workplace sexual harassment and the pass they give to party loyalists in the next breath,” said Naomi Seligman, the former Garcetti aide and whistleblower who made the issue public.
“It’s disheartening, to say the least.”