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Female House candidate ends campaign after sexual harassment accusations

Andrea Ramsey, a candidate for a Kansas congressional seat, ended her campaign after past allegations of sexual harassment against her resurfaced.
Image: The front of the U.S Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Dec. 1, 2017.
The front of the U.S Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Dec. 1, 2017.Robert E Klein / AP

A female candidate in a congressional race in Kansas ended her campaign Friday after past allegations resurfaced of sexual harassment which were made against her by a former employee.

Andrea Ramsey, who had been one of several Democrats running to unseat politically vulnerable Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., in the state's third congressional district, wrote in a post on her Facebook page that she would exit the in the wake of the allegations.

Her announcement came just after the Kansas City Star reported that it had asked her about a 2005 federal lawsuit in which a former employee of hers at LabOne, a medical diagnostics company, alleged she sexually harassed him and then fired him from the company after he rebuffed her advances.

Ramsey, who'd been executive vice president of human resources at the company at the time, denied the accusations. Funkhouser filed the suit against LabOne, not against Ramsey, alleging in court documents that the company "allowed to exist a sexually hostile working environment." The company settled the suit in 2006, the Star reported.

News of Ramsey's withdrawal from the race was first reported by the Kansas City Star.

Her exit marks an unusual twist in the #MeToo movement. For weeks, figures across politics and the media and entertainment industries have grappled with a wave sexual misconduct allegations, and many in Washington, including Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., decided to step down or not run for re-election after facing accusations.

The front of the U.S Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Dec. 1, 2017.Robert E Klein / AP

But the casualties so far have all been men.

Ramsey, who is identified by her maiden name "Thomas" in the 2005 court documents, subjected Funkhouser to "unwelcome sexual advances as well as unwelcome, unwanted and offensive sexual comments and innuendos during his employment," according to the complaint, which was obtained by NBC News.

Funkhouser, who worked as a human resources manager at the company, rejected the advances and said he was "not interested in having a sexual relationship," the complaint stated.

After the rejection, Thomas changed her demeanor toward Funkhouser "by shunning him, ignoring him, refusing to talk with him, and otherwise reign him in an unprofessional manner; moving him out of an office into a cubicle farther away from her office; criticizing his work performance," according to the complaint, and she ultimately fired him.

Funkhouser’s accusations were first disclosed in a 2005 complaint he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Ramsey, in her public Facebook post Friday, called the allegations "a lie" and said they were re-emerging for political purposes orchestrated by her opponents.

"Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee's position. That man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company (not against me). He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me. That is a lie," she wrote.

Messages left for Funkhouser were not immediately returned.

Ramsey, who is now 56, added in her post that "had the false allegations been brought against me directly, I would have fought to exonerate my name and my reputation."

"I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation. Now, twelve years later this suit is being used to force me out of my race for Congress," she wrote.

Ramsey also alleged that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the group that helps to elect Democrats to the House — pushed her out of the race.

"In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard. 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," she said.

A spokeswoman for the DCCC said the organization hadn't made any endorsements in the race and told NBC News that "if anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office."

The race Ramsey exited is expected to be competitive.

Kansas' third congressional district was the only one in the state won by Hillary Clinton in last year's election, and Yoder had been seen as one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents in 2018.