The National Restaurant Association says it has received the request from Joel Bennett, attorney for one of the women who signed a sexual harassment complaint against Herman Cain. The NRA says it will decide tomorrow whether to release the woman from her confidentiality agreement.
The agreement has not been made public and, as they say, God is in the details. Or, ironically, the devil is in the details. Nevertheless, this is not necessary.
Sure, careful attorneys aim to cross all T's and dot all I's. But they also tend to view everything through the prism of their own profession, rather than realistically. Fortunately, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell understands, explaining (rough transcript, here; video, below) on Wednesday
And you have been challenged, you women who have accused Herman Cain 0f sexual harassment. I know you and your lawyers fear what could happen to you if you did come forward, if you violated your confidentiality agreements. I am here to tell you that absolutely nothing would happen.
The advice your lawyers are giving you is legal advice, offered within the confines of a legal matter. Now you need political advice because this is in fact not a legal matter anymore; this is a political matter. Your lawyers have told you that if you violated your confidentiality agreement the National Restaurant Association, a Washington lobbying group, can sue you for doing that. They can drag you to court, they can get their settlement money back from you and possibly get more money from you in damages and legal fees.
I am here to tell you that that can never, and will never, happen and I am telling you that as a political fact. That is the political reality you and the Restaurant Association are facing. The National Restaurant Association spends its day lobbying Congress against increasing the minimum wage among other legislative interests that restaurants and hotel business has. The National Restaurant Association knows that they would pay an extreme and immediate political price for suing you for telling the truth about what happens in the headquarters of the National Restaurant Association. They know that if they sue you, they will not be allowed to set foot in at least half of the offices in the United States Senate and a couple of hundred offices in the House of Representatives. They know practical politics and representing the interests of their members means they absolutely cannot afford to sue you.
They also know the legal prospect of success with a Washington, D.C. jury are close to zero. You women have nothing to fear anymore in the National Restaurant Association. You srim (sic) nothing to fear in those confidentiality agreements. They are just pieces of paper....
I will provide you all of the funding you might need for a legal defense fund to fight and beat the National Restaurant Association and Herman Cain at their confidentiality game.
O'Donnell acknowledged that the women legitimately fear hostility from some quarters. Clearly, O'Donnell recognizes that this is not 1991 and the public reaction would not mimic that to Anita Hill when she truthfully testified about the sexual harassment she faced from her former employer, Clarence Thomas. Not only have the American people gained far greater knowledge of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is unlikely that any alleged victim know would make the same mistake as did Anita Hill- calmly, rationally testify to the facts while the man summons up phony righteous indignation.
O'Donnell, who worked on Capitol Hill from 1989 to 1995, can be accused of suffering from the same malady he recognizes in the attorney of Cain's accuser. Fortunately, however, O'Donnell is right and, whether or not the National Restaurant Association decides to extend its beneficence to the unknown woman, she would be well served to tell all.