Talking Points Memo picks up the Ganley lawsuit storyAlthough they mostly just mention what’s in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Still, the story is getting legs very quickly.  Wonder if there are any other shoes to drop?  You can read the TPM story here.

[UPDATE:]  Huffington Post picks it up too.

[FLASHBACK:]  Just a few weeks ago, CQ did a story about the pending lawsuits against Ganley… they seem even more relevant in light of this most recent lawsuit:

In one pending case against Ganley-owned dealerships, a former female employee alleges that management discriminated against her because of her gender. In court papers, the ex-employee alleges that she was “routinely given less opportunities for commissions that were given to the male employees” and that the mistreatment “made working conditions so intolerable that any reasonable person under the circumstances would have felt compelled to resign.”

In another pending case, one current and one former black employee are suing a Ganley Jeep dealership for not paying them fair wages and for giving white co-workers preferential treatment, as well as for their boss’s “disparaging remarks about [their] intelligence.”

In May 2006, a former employee, who was white, accused two of Ganley’s dealerships of firing her because her boyfriend was black. Court papers also show the former office manager was erroneously accused of stealing $4,000 from a petty-cash drawer.

The false accusation resulted in the employee’s arrest and four nights in jail, where she “was forced to undergo degrading, humiliating and emotionally distressing experiences, including but not limited to, being strip-searched and forced to use and watch others use open bathroom facilities,” according to allegations in the court documents.

Ganley’s lawyers and the former employee settled the case in June 2007. Details of the agreement are unavailable.

As Ohio Daily Blog noted this morning, the accuser was posting comments calling Ganley a “pig” as early as January of this year in female conservative centered blogs.

Yes, I can say as a lawyer that it’s not unusual for a business of Ganley’s size to have been sued a number of times, but the pattern of discrimination claims is troubling.  As is the commonality of misogyny in this complaint and the sexual discrimination complaint, which is still pending.  I don’t think that is a common “price of doing business” type litigation.

Regardless, this isn’t the kind of record the Ganley campaign wants to be getting front and center attention during the final weeks of the campaign.  But it’s more than time for the media to start looking at these cases more closely rather than accept Ganley’s word that they’re just the cost of having a successful business.

How bad is it for Ganley?

His campaign website has an anonymous, non-attributable denial as the main story.  Who is “Team Ganley” and why should we believe that they know what actually happened any better than any other complete stranger?

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I don’t know how baseless the lawsuit can be.  We have a letter dated shortly after the incident from the accuser to Ganley that largely tells the story.  If Ganley responded to that letter saying that it’s a pack of lies, why wouldn’t they make that letter a part of their response?  There are, allegedly, phone records confirming the two have a history of correspondence.  Where is Ganley’s alternative theory which gives an innocent explanation for those phone contacts?  We are told there are business records showing that the accuser got comped for repair work and a lower interest rate on her vehicle leading up to the alleged assault.  Again, where is the alternative explanation by Ganley?  We have no reason to doubt that she was, at one time, a Ganley supporter who suddenly changed.

And there’s one other thing we don’t have.  Not one direct quote from Tom Ganley himself today.  The only people denying it are his surrogates–his attorney and campaign–who have plausible deniability if it later turns out their protestations of his innocence is false because neither Ganley’s attorney nor his campaign would have actual knowledge of what did or did not occur.  The fact that the one person who would have actual knowledge has been conspicuously absent in responding to this—to the point that the campaign’s release includes no quote from the candidate himself denying it—is starting to strike me as odd.

His lawyer’s quote is:

“These are baseless allegations, the only motive being to extort money and to cause political harm to a good and decent man,” Dever said Thursday night. “Tom Ganley is not the type of person who’s going to back down from threats and be extorted for financial gain.”

“Unfortunately, his day in court won’t come until after the election,” Dever said.

I would expect to say, if I could truthfully, my client totally denies these allegations.  His lawyer does later claim that “we found no corroboration” either, but again, how could he? No suit had been filed yet, there’s been no investigation, nor discovery yet.  And there are clearly pieces of evidence attached to the Complaint that would seem to corroborate some of the accuser’s story.  You need to take a look at what Ganley has not denied.  He has not denied that he had interaction with this woman.  His own business records corroborate her story about getting discounts on auto repairs leading up to the incident.  What short of Ganley’s confession could his attorney get to corroborate her story about the assault? What is Ganley’s lawyer’s basis to claim the accusation are “baseless” because he doesn’t say that his client has categorically denied that anything took place.

I’m unconvinced that these denials are backed by evidence as strongly as Ganley’s lawyer is obvious trying to imply.  If Ganley had exculpatory evidence that shows that this woman, or her story, is not credible, he’d be insane not to get it out there ASAP.

I think it’s rather odd not to have the candidate personally respond to such serious allegations.  Maybe it’s just a tactical mistake by the campaign.  Then again, maybe it isn’t.

Maybe I’m being too nit picky, but I think any crisis communication person would say that Team Ganley isn’t doing all they should to put this story to rest, if it truly is groundless.  People expect to hear the candidate deny it so they can judge whether they believe him or not themselves.  Hiding behind a faceless campaign and your attorney is just not a wise move.

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  • mvirenicus

    this is the one race where i will probably be voting dem. i’ll be damned if ganley will be my house rep.

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