A Democrat who was active in Nevada politics says she was subject to unwanted touching by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Lucy Flores detailed the allegations Friday in an article in New York Magazine’s The Cut.
A Biden spokesman said Friday that neither he nor his staff recalled the incidents Flores described.
In 2014, Flores was 35 and the Democratic nominee for Nevada’s lieutenant governor. Biden’s office had reached out with an offer of help for her campaign, which she accepted, she noted in The Cut.
Flores then recounted what happened as she and Biden waited to go on stage at a Nov. 1, 2014, event in Las Vegas.
“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders,” Flores wrote. “I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f—? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?'”
But it did not end there, she wrote.
“He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head,” Flores said. “My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. … I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me.”
This was an incredibly difficult thing to do, but something that felt necessary. It took awhile before I found the words and the support that made me feel like this was finally a story I could tell. https://t.co/Sr5Go3xuTe
— Lucy Flores (@LucyFlores) March 29, 2019
“I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before, she said.
Flores wrote that instead of helping her win an election, “he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.”
What Biden did made Flores feel small, she said.
“Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful,” she wrote. “I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.”
Since that day, Flores wrote, she has relived the moment and re-evaluated her reactions to it, all the while seeing news accounts of Biden “getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls.”
She also referenced the nickname “America’s Creepy Uncle” used to describe Biden in a piece by The Week that discussed Biden’s habit of touching women and girls.
Are we really pretending that Joe Biden being creepy/inappropriate with women is news?
I for one am looking forward to the Creepy Uncle Joe memes throughout the campaign. pic.twitter.com/BSkllciY3h
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 29, 2019
But she said nothing.
“For years I feared my experience would be dismissed,” Flores wrote. “Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization. … But hearing Biden’s potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer.”
The bottom line for Flores was not that this was an isolated aberration, but that in American society, such conduct is not so.
“I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem,” she wrote.
Biden’s staff issued a response to the allegations Friday.
“Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores’s candidacy for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event. Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,” said Bill Russo, a Biden spokesman, according to Politico.
“But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best,” Russo said.
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