An ex-Nevada assemblywoman who accused former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate touching is pushing back against critics who are calling her motives political, saying she believes voters should know about her experience if Biden mounts a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The accusation by Lucy Flores, who served two sessions in the state Legislature as a Democrat, surfaced Friday in an article she wrote for a New York magazine.
A second woman on Monday accused Biden of inappropriately touching her at a campaign event in 2009.
Flores described a rally in November 2014 in which Biden came to Nevada support her bid for lieutenant governor. She said she was standing in the staging area in a single-file line with actress Eva Longoria and Biden standing behind her.
“That’s when, out of nowhere, I felt his hands on my shoulder and then I felt him getting close from behind,” she told the Review-Journal on Monday. “I kind of felt him lean in and then he kissed the top of my head.”
She said was shocked unable to immediately process what had happened.
“Frankly, it was literally minutes before I had to go on stage and deliver these remarks, and you know, try to win an election,” she said. “So that’s what I did, you just — you move forward, you continue on with the task at hand.”
Flores said she felt the need to speak out given Biden’s expected run for the presidency — and because his forward behavior toward women is an “open secret” in the political circles.
‘Not mentioned once’
“I just felt like it had not been treated, not only with the seriousness that this kind of behavior deserves, but also with an acknowledgment even,” she said. “Because literally it was not mentioned once. And so I felt really compelled to say something.”
Flores previously supported Bernie Sanders but has since retracted that support. She rejected the notion that she’s doing this on behalf of any other Democratic candidate.
“It is just another classic move to try to discredit me and to question my motives instead of actually focusing on the behavior — instead of focusing on the bad actor,” she said.
She noted that she is not supporting anyone for the presidency.
“If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention,” the statement reads. “I may not recall these comments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”
Amy Lappos, a former aide to Democratic Rep. Jim Hines of Connecticut, also lodged a claim that Biden had acted inappropriately at a fundraiser at a private home in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2009. Her story was first reported Monday by the Hartford Courant.
Lappos told the Associated Press that she and other Himes aides were helping out when Biden entered the kitchen to thank the group for pitching in.
‘He rubbed noses with me’
“After he finished speaking, he stopped to talk to us about how important a congressional staff is, which I thought was awesome,” Lappos said.
She said she was stunned as Biden moved toward her.
“He wrapped both his hand around my face and pulled me in,” said Lappos, 43. “I thought, ‘Oh, God, he’s going to kiss me.’ Instead, he rubbed noses with me.”
Biden said nothing, she said, then moved off. She said the experience left her feeling “weird and uncomfortable” and was “absolutely disrespectful of my personal boundaries.”
Biden hasn’t made a final decision on whether to run for the White House. But aides who weren’t authorized to discuss internal conversations and spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity said there were no signs that his team was slowing its preparations for a campaign.
Biden’s potential Democratic rivals haven’t rushed to back him up.
Over the weekend, presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand came closest to calling out the former vice president over Flores’ account.
Warren said Biden “needs to give an answer” about what occurred. Gillibrand said, “If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is a topic he’ll have to engage on further.”