Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks during the Unity Rally 2012 at The River Church in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. Delegates of the Republican National Convention (RNC) will convene on Aug. 27 as scheduled and then recess until Aug. 28 due to the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac, said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
I refuse to leave my reputation under a dark cloud that has no relation to the truth.
On September 24, 2011, I won the Florida Republican Presidency 5 Straw Poll by a large margin over the next closest candidate. It was an upset victory and helped propel me to the position of frontrunner in the national polls for the Republican presidential nomination. My messages of common sense solutions and tax code replacement were clearly resonating with the American people.
What happened next brought my campaign to an abrupt and unexpected end – a series of scurrilous accusations, sensationalized by an onslaught of media coverage. All this made it impossible for me to continue without subjecting my family – particularly my wife of 45 years – to more pain than any decent man could ask his family to endure.
The accusations were false. I have never sexually harassed a woman and I did not have an affair with Ginger White. Until now, I have never offered the facts that expose these accusations as lies, although I have been in possession of them. It is now time to do so, not only because the false accusations have received renewed attention with the publication of a book that discusses them, but more importantly because I refuse to live my life, pursue my radio and professional career or do anything else that God has left for me to do in this world with a dark cloud attached to my reputation that is not consistent with the truth.
Here are the facts:
During the week of November 14, 2011, a news story was reported about me having been accused of sexual harassment while I was president of the National Restaurant Association. The female employee who made the charges was being terminated and wanted a large sum of money as part of her termination. She threatened to file a lawsuit and the Association decided to let the litigation proceed because the Association had concluded that the charges were false.
The accusation never made it to court. A review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the charges were baseless. Despite trying to thereafter negotiate a settlement greater than normal, the accuser ended up receiving typical termination pay.
During the week of November 21, 2011 (a week later), another former National Restaurant Association female employee went public with sexual harassment charges. My campaign staff and I had no idea that this was coming. We first heard the charges when she read them during a press conference carried by CNN with her attorney, Gloria Allred, attending and also speaking at the press conference. The former employee had been employed by the Association's Educational Foundation based in Chicago.
As we watched the press conference and heard the outlandish charges being read by the employee, I commented to staff members in the room that I did not even remember the accuser, especially since I was based in the Association’s Washington, D.C. office. At the time of the Allred press conference, we were in San Francisco, where I was giving a speech, following which we headed to Phoenix, Arizona the next day for another event.
We decided to hold a press conference in Phoenix where I could address the charges directly to the media. At that event, I unequivocally denied the charges by Allred’s client, which was appropriate because they were absolute fabrications. We wanted to address the false accusations quickly and directly so they would not become an ongoing distraction from my campaign and the important issues we were discussing with the American voters.
But less than one week later, the week of November 28, 2011, an individual named Ginger White emerged and claimed that I had had a 13-year affair with her. This false accusation fanned the media flames and led to an even larger media firestorm. But again, the simple truth is that there was no affair. I acknowledged that I had known Ms. White for about that period of time, and had helped her from time to time with some ongoing personal financial problems she had been experiencing.
Her “proof” of the affair – beyond her own words – consisted of some of my published books that I had signed for her, and some text messages and phone calls exchanged. I have published five books and have signed thousands of them, and there was nothing unusual about how I signed the books she had in her possession. But some media stories showed the signed copies as if they were evidence of wrongdoing. Innocent acts were being transformed into something else to support mistruths.
The text messages over the limited period of time she referenced, based on obtaining my actual telephone records, show a pattern of contacts by Ms. White to me 2.5 times for each response to her. The exchanges were usually around the end and middle of a month when she was asking for help with another money crisis such as being unable to pay her rent or buy food for herself and her two children during times when she was unemployed.
I was soft-hearted, and admittedly naive, for continuing to help her, as her situation seemed to never get on a stable financial track. She asked me for advice on several business ideas she was considering, and I gave her my opinion, as I have done hundreds of times with many people.
As my presidential campaign consumed more and more of my time and my resources, I finally told her that I could no longer help her. This was about a week before she went public claiming a 13-year affair.
While she was all over the media enjoying her “fifteen minutes of fame” (see attached timeline), she was being sued by a former business partner for libel – in lay terms, for making false statements. She did not show up for the court appearance and the court subsequently ruled in favor of her former business partner. All of this is a matter of public record.
What follows is a timeline of how things unfolded as this story became almost the exclusive focus of the media. The constant recycling, repeating and repackaging of the same unsupported accusations over and over caused some people to lose confidence in me and my campaign. But more importantly, what my family had to endure was too painful for me to ignore. As a result, I ended my campaign for the presidency.
Here is the timeline:
11/28/2011: I was already scheduled to appear on CNN with Wolf Blitzer on his late afternoon show from Washington, D.C. Apparently, the local Atlanta Fox affiliate WAGA had a reporter who tweeted that their I-Team was “breaking a story with HUGE implications on the presidential race.” They were about to broadcast their first interview with a woman who claimed to have had a 13-year affair with me. I told the anchor that I did know Ginger White, but since I had not seen the story, I would “see what the story’s going to be.”
11/28/2011: Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA breaks the news with a sit-down interview of Ms. White by Dale Russell. Ms. White said she decided to talk after she was contacted by “numerous news outlets who had been tipped off to the affair.” She went on to say she was “bothered by watching Cain’s attacks on the other women who accused him of sexual harassment.” Ms. White stated, “It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of.” Ms. White said she met me in the late 1990s when I was president of the National Restaurant Association. This may be the only truthful statement about me that she has made other than that I sometimes agreed to help her with her personal financial problems. For the record, I did meet Ms. White in the late 1990s and I have never demonized her or anyone else in my life.
During her first interview of many, she was asked if the relationship was still going on and she indicated that it had stopped just before I officially entered the presidential race, which was in May 2011. She also produced copies of two of my books I had personalized for her. I have personalized books for hundreds of people! I also wrote words of encouragement, as I had done for other friends. She also pulled out her cell phone and copies of cell phone records indicating that there had been some 61 texts or phone calls. I, too, have copies of my cell phone records. Yes, there were text messages to and from Ms. White, mostly from Ms. White by a ratio of 2.5 to 1 from her to me.
11/30/2011: Ms. White appears on Good Morning America and tells George Stephanopoulos that I “would not make a good president.” Rather than focusing on our nation’s problems, the focus was clearly on my candidacy. George Stephanopoulos was a former White House staffer and policy advisor to President Bill Clinton.
12/3/2011: With my wife, Gloria, at my side, I announce that I am dropping out of the race, due to the stress the false accusations and media coverage of them was putting on my family, especially Gloria. As I said that day: “The pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out and go away, and I am not going away.”
12/5/2011: Ginger White gives an interview to The Blaze, in which she makes more unbelievable remarks about me. I think this speaks volumes that she would continue to voluntarily put herself in the public spotlight with such tawdry comments within days of her claims that her reputation was “stolen from her.”
12/5/2011: White gives an interview to Leslie Bennetts of the Daily Beast, where she laments that “Cain wasn’t the only man who helped her financially; her work history and her sex life have long been intermingled in complex and contradictory ways.” She also tells Ms. Bennett, “I wasn’t the only one he was helping.”
12/16/2011: White hires a Tampa-based public relations firm to “help her repair her reputation, which was stolen from her.” Her publicist’s other clients include former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption, as well as Drew Peterson, who was convicted of the death of his third wife, only after his fourth wife went missing.
12/21/2011: White gives Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA another interview where she feigns amazement at the personal attacks against her, telling the reporter that “it has been tough.”
2/29/2012: White walks the red carpet at an Oscar party in Beverly Hills, California as the guest of her new attorney, Gloria Allred.
3/26/2012: White’s former business partner in the spin cycle business wins a libel lawsuit against Ms. White. At a later hearing, a judgment (Civil Action #11A-37341-7) is awarded against Ms. White in the amount of $23,842.50 in Superior Court of DeKalb County, Georgia. As of the writing of this commentary, the plaintiff has not received any payment(s) of this judgment.
10/24/2012: White gives an Internet interview to Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn of the Daily Download. She tells the interviewers that she plans to write a “tell all” book about her relationship with me. The exclusive interview garnered six, yes only six, comments on their new website, two of which came from the reporters.
We haven’t heard anything about Ms. White in 2013.
I decided to write this piece and publish it now for several reasons. Candidates for office who are untrustworthy in their personal lives should absolutely be held accountable. But it is equally true that those who make false and scurrilous accusations against others need to be held to account for what they do. And the media should demand factual evidence of accusations before shouting “guilty” 24/7.
When a person is running for president and is faced with charges such as these, the media are not focused on whether the charges are true or the source credible. The media focus more on how the candidate and the campaign “handle the situation,” as if smooth public relations skills are the primary attribute we seek in our presidents. If that were the case, we would be doing great under Barack Obama.
But an even more relevant reason is this: Today I have a powerful platform through my radio show and this website, both of which are growing in their audience and influence, and I have much to say about what ails this nation – as well as what is good about this nation. There still exists a school of thought that I have no business addressing certain issues because, it’s said, Herman Cain is “a womanizer” or “a sexual harasser” or whatever.
No. I am not. And I never have been. And I refuse to silence myself on any issue because some dishonest people and publicity-seeking attorneys care little or nothing about the truth.
These are the facts. You don’t have to believe them, but facts are what they are. I know who I am and what I am and so does God, and that is more than enough for me. I remain at peace with the truth.