Former Vice President Joe Biden’s creepy behavior towards women and girls has made headlines for years. His attitude towards women has even been lampooned by Saturday Night Live, a show that generally reserves their mocking for conservative candidates.
Now, allegations have emerged that Biden’s campaign made some significant contributions to a public relations firm – payments that are linked to a #MeToo situation. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Biden’s campaign paid over $806,000 in January and February to SDKincherbocker. While the money was supposed to cover direct mailing and fundraising, it is a huge increase over the campaign’s previous year spending.
The payments were also curiously timed – they came as the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was determining if it could offer legal help to former Biden staffer Tara Reade.
Reade turned to Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund earlier this year after accusing Biden of inappropriate behavior and touching during his time in the Senate in the 1990s. These allegations were part of the #MeToo movement, and led to an onslaught of attacks against Reade from the press and media personalities. Reade was not directly attacked because of her allegations against Biden – instead, outraged progressives attached her for a piece she wrote on Medium several years before.
In that piece, Reade praised Vladimir Putin and Russia. These sentiments were seen as pro-Russian, and outlets were swift to condemn her as someone attempting to tamper with the current election. Mainstream media outlets dismissed Reade’s story, giving it very little press despite the seriousness of the allegations.
Reade turned to Time’s Up for help dealing with the fallout she experienced after sharing her story. Reade’s hope was that the organization would be able to help her relaunch her allegations and to cope with the amount of derision she experienced from other outlets. The organization ultimately declined, citing legal issues and the need to maintain the nonprofit organization’s tax exempt status. Since Biden is running for president in 2020, any support offered to Reade could jeopardize Time’s Up, which like most nonprofits, is barred from political activity.
Some legal experts questioned the group’s decision and interpretation of the legal issues surrounding the allegations.
“If they are an advocacy group that publicizes incidents of sexual harassment, their failure to publicize this one is likely more problematic, as they appear to be making a decision to protect a prominent political candidate,” said Celta Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP.
While this was happening, Biden’s campaign made multiple payments to the PR firm, spaced out over a period of three month and for about $200,000 per payment. The timing of this series of payments suggests that the campaign was hoping to take a proactive approach to any movement or action by Reade or the Time’s Up group. While details are still emerging, the timing and type of payments has drawn attention to the Biden campaign and his behavior towards women in the past and on the campaign trail.