CONTACT: AMY TRACY, 202-628-8669 x767; DIANE MINOR, x773
STATEMENT OF NOW PRESIDENT PATRICIA IRELAND CALLING FOR FAIR TREATMENT
OF JONES' SUIT, QUESTIONING RIGHT WING DISINGENUOUS FERVOR
MAY 6, 1994
Sexual harassment is a serious allegation, and we think both Paula
Jones and President
Clinton deserve their day in court. We will continue to monitor this
case, but we will not take the right wing's bait by heralding or attacking
We weren't born Democrats or Republicans and we weren't born yesterday.
Right wing leaders like Operation Rescue's
Randall Terry and the 700 Club's
Pat Robertson are trying both to impeach President Clinton and to portray
harassment suits as something women file to bring down powerful men.
Although we do not think Ms. Jones' credibility is automatically damaged
by these associations, we do find the involvement of right wing leaders
in her case disingenuous. Where was Clinton foe Cliff Jackson when the
U.S. Senate at first refused to hold a hearing for Anita
Hill? Where was Operation Rescue's Randall Terry when the Tailhook
whistleblowers were being blown off by the U.S. Navy? Where was Willie
Horton and author Floyd Brown when we were rallying behind the dozens of
women who are accusing Sen.
Bob Packwood? In short, where were these right wingers on other high
profile harassment cases? And why are they suddenly so concerned about
sexual harassment? They are not known for supporting women's rights, but
rather for opposing them.
We know that sexual harassers are everywhere -- in high public positions,
in executive suites and even in pulpits. In fact, powerful men may be more
likely to harass women because some of these men treat harassment as a
fringe benefit, a privilege of power. Every Paula Jones deserves to be
heard, no matter how old she is and how long ago the incident occurred,
no matter what kind of accent she has or how much money she makes, and
no matter who she associates with. To this day, Anita Hill and the Tailhook
complainants never really got a fair hearing and the Packwood accusers
still haven't been scheduled for public hearings in Congress.
We have our own political strategies on ending sexual harassment, because
we are activists who try to change the system rather than provide services
to people abused by it. A key NOW strategy is to move more feminist into
the corridors of power. Our election campaign in 1992 was designed to "Elect
Women for a Change" and that's our goal this year, too. This strategy proved
effective when, for example, all seven women U.S. Senators united to win
43 votes against rewarding Admiral Kelso with a four-star retirement after
his irresponsible leadership role in the Tailhook scandal.
The right wingers promoting Paula Jones' cause have misrepresented their
role in it, NOW's role in it and NOW's role in previous cases. Here are
NOW did not immediately rally in support of Anita Hill's allegations, but
rather protested because senators had said they would not ask the Judiciary
Committee to re-open their proceedings in order to give her charges a fair
hearing. It was not until after both Hill and Clarence Thomas had testified
that NOW added that issue to its reasons for opposing Thomas, with buttons
reading "I believe Anita Hill."
Although harassment allegations against Sen. Bob Packwood were revealed
days after he was re-elected, NOW waited two months before calling for
the Senate to make his seating conditional on the outcome of an investigation
of the charges. In those two months, the number of complainants increased
dramatically and Packwood said he would not contest their charges. NOW
is still calling for public hearings in the Packwood case.
Ms. Jones' story first surfaced in the January issue of the conservative
Spectator magazine, using her first name only. The story was written
by David Brock, author of a vicious, factually-inaccurate book Anita Hill.
Jones next appeared at a news conference February 11 in Washington that
was held as part of Floyd Brown's Conservative Political Action Committee
meeting. Her first attorney, Daniel Traylor of Little Rock, inaccurately
stated that the New York-based NOW Legal
Defense and Education Fund had refused to become involved in her case.
When NOW LDEF's Deb Ellis called to tell him her organization had never
been approached on the case, he said Jones had contacted a local chapter.
NOW LDEF is a separate organization from NOW itself and does not have local
affiliations. NOW's Arkansas chapters say they were never contacted by
Jones or her attorney. Since receiving a NOW LDEF sexual harassment kit
he requested, Traylor has claimed NOW LDEF was giving him advice.
NOW observers report that Jones' story took much of the air time during
the right wing's 40-person rally in a park across from the White House
April 24. The rally was part of a nine-city, "Take Back America!" tour
by Operation Rescue Founder Randall Terry. Terry and others called for
Clinton's impeachment and called women "bimbos."
Operation Rescue spokesman Pat Mahoney contacted NOW President Patricia
Ireland April 25 with an offer to set up a conference call with Jones
and Traylor. Ireland agreed to a 2:30 p.m. call May 4, but Jones was not
on it. Traylor told her Jones was shopping for a dress to wear to court
the next day. He refused to provide information about how and why right
wing leaders had become involved with the case. Traylor criticized American
Spectator magazine for "sloppy journalism."
Paula Jones told her story on Pat Robertson's 700 Club Sunday night May
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