Democrat Andrea Ramsey announced Friday morning she was dropping out of the race to fill a competitive House of Representatives seat in Kansas amid news of a 2005 lawsuit that accused her of sexual harassment.
Ramsey, who announced on Facebook that she was quitting the race, was accused in the lawsuit of sexually harassing and then retaliating against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances. Ramsey was not named as a defendant in the case, which was first reported by The Kansas City Star.
The case was dismissed in 2006 and multiple sources with knowledge told The Star the man had reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey had been the executive vice president of human resources. Ramsey told The Star she was unaware of any settlement.
She was one of the Democratic candidates running to try to unseat Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District and also had the endorsement of Emily’s List, the influential Democratic political committee that backs women for public office who support abortion rights.
“A man sued my company twelve years ago and made false accusations against me. Had the false allegations been brought against me directly, I would have fought to exonerate my name and my reputation,” she said in the Facebook post. “Now, twelve years later this suit is being used to force me out of my race for Congress.”
She continued: “As a first-time candidate, I am disappointed and disillusioned by the political process. … I will continue to seek future opportunities to serve our community and fight for our Republic, just not as your Congresswoman.”
She also said it’s important for women to step forward and tell their stories.
“On balance, it is far more important to me that women are stepping forward to tell their stories and confront their harassers than it is to continue our campaign,” she said.
She said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will not “support” her “promising campaign.”
“In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,” she wrote. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”
The DCCC, which had not endorsed anyone in the election yet, said members and candidates should be held to the “highest standard.”
“Members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard. If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,” DCCC communications director Meredith Kelly said Friday.
The allegations against Ramsey were in a lawsuit against LabOne, and in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The man, Gary Funkhouser, accused Ramsey of “unwelcome, unwanted and offensive sexual comments and innuendos” beginning in September 2004.
“After plaintiff rejected Thomas’s sexual advances, Thomas changed her demeanor toward plaintiff by shunning him, ignoring him, refusing to talk with him, and otherwise treating him in an unprofessional manner; moving him out of an office into a cubicle farther away from her office; criticizing his work performance; and ultimately terminating his performance on June 13, 2005,” the lawsuit said.
Ramsey told the Star she made the decision to fire Funkhouser in conjunction with the management of the company.