by Nicole Lafond
A top aide of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) was dismissed last week after Politico contacted the presidential candidate’s Senate office regarding its investigation into claims of sexual harassment by a former staffer, Politico reported.
The male aide, Abbas Malik, was at the center of allegations made by a woman who resigned from Gillibrand’s office last year in protest over the office’s handling of an investigation into allegations that Malik sexually harassed her. The female staffer, whom Politico did not identify, alleged that Malik repeatedly made unwanted advances toward her throughout her time in Gillibrand’s office.
According to the woman, Malik sent her inappropriate or flirtatious text messages, suggesting she was hitting on him and asking what would happen if the two had met at a bar. The woman responded by trying to avoid the top aide, who reacted by giving the woman the silent treatment until she apologized to him for being “mean” over his promotion, in Politico’s words.
“I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay. None of it is acceptable,’” the woman wrote in her resignation letter to Gillibrand, who reportedly did not respond. “Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation.”
“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability,” Gillibrand said in a statement to Politico. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”
At least four former Gillibrand staffers told Politico they had witnessed other inappropriate behavior from Malik. They said he commented on their appearance, including telling one staffer to her face that she was “fat” and “unattractive,” in Politico’s words. He also reportedly made rape jokes and rated women who came to the office for interviews.
After Politico reached out to Gillibrand’s office with its findings, a new investigation was opened and Malik was dismissed last week.
Read Politico’s full report here.
talkingpointsmemo.com · by Nicole Lafond