With time winding down in this midyear election, the rhetoric between Ohio’s two U.S. Senate candidates is heating up.
Republican challenger Jim Renacci issued a release overnight, claiming a lawyer now represents a woman accusing incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown of making unwanted advances toward her years ago after his first marriage had ended.
Laura Mills, who represents the accuser and who has been quoted — but not named — in campaign ads for Jim Rennaci, said the victim is accusing Brown of “uninvited, unwanted” advances:
I am the lawyer who Jim Renacci has referred to in the press as an attorney who handles domestic and sexual abuse cases. He did not want to disclose my name because his referral to me was for the benefit of women contacting his office and he did not believe he had a right to do so. I have received consent from one of the women to make a statement. She is a very credible source and a professional woman. This is what she disclosed to me.
She met Sherrod Brown in the course of her work and had occasion to be briefly alone with him, but not on a date. She told a friend in confidence about her unwanted and unexpected experience in the late 80’s. This was months ago, shortly after the MeToo movement began, and the reason she told her friend was to explain why she believed many of the women, as something unwanted had happened to her with a prominent politician. She had no intention of coming forward and did not know that the friend would later contact Jim Renacci with it. When she did, he referred her to discuss the experience with me.
This encounter happened after his divorce. She described an unexpected, uninvited, unwanted, and sudden advance, roughly pushing her up against a wall. It did stop after she expressed dismay and very firmly pulled away, explaining that was not her style nor why she was there. He then said he remembered what she had on the day they had met some time earlier and that he had been attracted to her. Although she was able to defuse the situation, it did shake her up and she told friends about it as soon as she got home. They wanted her to report it but she chose not to do so because it did stop. She has also told a few other people over the years about what a shock it was, but did not intend to ever bring it forward recently other than to let friends know this is why she believed many other women’s stories about similar experiences. And also it happened a very long time ago. She is only allowing this statement because the current news coverage does not have all the facts yet, and she wants to correct the record.
The woman desires to be anonymous and I will not disclose her name or any further information on her behalf.” – Laura Mills Esq., Managing Partner, Mills, Mills Fiely & Lucas
In response, Renacci said that other allegations against Brown, including court records detailing a domestic violence claim, have disqualified him from serving in the Senate.
…these additional allegations from a second accuser clearly raise even more questions and alarm over Sherrod Brown’s conduct towards women.” – Jim Renacci
“I’ve said all along that Sherrod Brown has a history of documented abuse with his ex-wife and those documents are over a number of years,” Renacci said. “There are affidavits and a number of affidavits supporting that.”
The release drew a quick response from the Brown camp, insisting the allegations are false.
“This is a character assassination by the most desperate candidate the state of Ohio has seen in recent memory,” Spokesperson Justin Barasky said. “It won’t be tolerated by our campaign or by the senator, and all legal means will be pursued against him.”
Friends of Sherrod Brown spokesperson Preston Maddock released a statement, saying Renacci is participating in a “character assassination.”
Brown has issued a cease and desist letter to Renacci’s campaign and issued the following statement:
Just hours after a cease and desist was sent to Jim Renacci informing him that if he chose to continue making unsubstantiated and false claims about something that never happened he would face legal ramifications, now Jim Renacci’s former business partner and friend, in coordination with Renacci’s campaign, has put out a statement with nothing more than further anonymous and unsubstantiated claims.Pure and simple this is character assassination by a failed and desperate candidate who every day reaches new lows. This will not be tolerated, all legal means will be pursued against Jim Renacci.” – Friends of Sherrod Brown spokesperson Preston Maddock
While Brown’s spokesperson said the senator would take legal action if needed, he also admitted there may not be much the campaign can do to keep Renacci from spreading false accusations.