Before taking the moral high ground, one had better be certain that that ground is actually high.
The Intercept reports that a legal defense fund dedicated to paying for lawsuits against powerful men accused of sexual assault and impropriety refused to take the case of a former staffer’s accusation against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The accusation comes from Tara Reade, who in 1993 was a staffer for then-senator Biden. Not only does Reade allege there were several occasions in which Biden made her feel uncomfortable, but she also says explicitly that he pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers.
Reade said she told her best friend and brother at the time, and both of them recently recalled to the Intercept those conversations.
This week, she offered a more graphic account to liberal podcaster Katie Halper.
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) March 25, 2020
The National Women’s Law Center that houses the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund declined to take her case earlier this year on apparently legal grounds, saying any action against the former vice president would jeopardize the fund’s tax-exempt status — a rather curious defense.
But perhaps it had more to do with the firm that spearheads all public relations for the fund, SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top political adviser to Biden — a rather curious fact.
The fund itself is new, driven to creation by the #MeToo movement that sought to redress the injustice of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women.
In December 2017, the Time’s Up Foundation set up the most profitable GoFundMe ever, raking in more than $24 million before declining further donations in 2019.
To the fund’s credit, it has gone after the likes of Harvey Weinstein — a major Democratic donor — as well as other accused executives in all kinds of industries, including health care and education.
In a fact sheet, the fund says it has committed more than $10 million toward 174 cases and helped more than 73 people with “media assistance.”
The fund has ties to Biden’s old boss: Its CEO is Tina Tchen, who was chief of staff to former President Barack Obama’s wife, first lady Michelle Obama.
So why would the fund decline a harassment case against a politician, especially one who has been accused by other women with similar stories?
Was it really because the fund had a legal obligation to do so?
According to Ellen Aprill, a tax law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, the fund is acting “too conservative” in its own analysis.
“As a legal matter,” Aprill explained to The Intercept, “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,” she concluded.
In other words, if the fund had operated as it always had, there would be no legal impediment to going after Biden. Instead, the fund obviously made a choice not to support the accusation for fear of damaging Biden’s presidential chances.
As for the Time’s Up fund, it is always difficult to establish oneself as a paragon of Lady Justice.
Sure, one can hold up scales in which to appraise and grip a sword in which to swing. But when you peek from under the blindfold, not only is justice no longer applied equally, it is arguably no longer justice.
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