Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A former Nevada lawmaker claims former Vice President Joe Biden inappropriately kissed her while helping her campaign for lieutenant governor in 2014. The allegation comes as Biden is publicly weighing a run for president in 2020.
Lucy Flores, a social justice advocate who served as a Nevada assemblywoman, claims she endured an uninvited touch on her shoulders and a kiss on the back of her head, she wrote on Friday in an article for New York magazine’s The Cut, titled, An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden.
Flores was the 35-year-old Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Nevada when the alleged incident occurred at a campaign event on Nov. 1, 2014. Biden was then the vice president of the United States.
“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’” Flores wrote.
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f—? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’” Flores’ account continued.
“He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused,” she wrote. “I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.”
Flores wrote that she had considered Biden to be attending the event in a professional capacity.
“Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command — an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.”
A Biden spokesperson issued a statement to ABC News saying that the potential 2020 candidate did not remember the incident.
“Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores’s candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event. Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,” the Biden spokesperson wrote.
“Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best,” the statement continued.
On Friday, Flores tweeted about the story, “This was an incredibly difficult thing to do, but something that felt necessary. It took awhile before I found the words and the support that made me feel like this was finally a story I could tell.”
Although Biden has not definitively indicated whether he will run, his past actions are being scrutinized as that of a would-be candidate. Earlier this week, he drew ire from women’s groups after he referenced his oft-criticized treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings in 1991. During the hearings, Hill was dismissed in her testimony about Thomas’s alleged sexual harassment by members of the Senate. At the time, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Biden has apologized frequently in public remarks to Hill, whose testimony has been seen in a new light since the #MeToo movement has grown.
On Tuesday, Biden renewed the conversation about his treatment of Hill when he spoke at the “Biden Courage Awards” to honor those who have worked to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
“To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved given the courage she showed by reaching out to us,” Biden said at the event, which took place in New York.
In an interview with Elle magazine last September, Hill said, “There are more important things to me now than hearing an apology from Joe Biden. I’m okay with where I am.”
The former vice president’s remarks have renewed calls for an in-person apology to Hill. In January 2018, he was asked on PBS if he would apologize in person and he said that he hadn’t planned on it.
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