Chris Wilson, a former pollster for the National Restaurant Association, told an Oklahoma radio station today that he witnessed incidents in which Herman Cain sexually harassed an employee at a restaurant.
"I was the pollster at the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was head of it and I was around a couple of times when this happened and anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time, knew that this was gonna come up," Wilson told KTOK’s Mullins in the Morning. "This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it.... It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left—everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up."
Wilson clearly implies these were serious incidents of sexual harassment, claiming that if the accuser "comes out and talks about it, like I said, it'll probably be the end of his campaign." Wilson didn't discuss Cain's behavior "for legal reasons," reports KTOK.
Ed Morrissey points out that Wilson's firm now does work for a pro-Perry PAC, but Wilson has no "formal ties" to the Perry campaign.
But pollster Tony Fabrizio, who was Wilson's boss at Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates at the time of the alleged incidents, was hired by the Perry campaign in October.
Although Wilson claims that "anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time knew that this [incident with Cain] was gonna come up," Fabrizio says he didn't now that Cain was accused of sexual harassment.
“Our firm worked for the NRA prior to Herman Cain’s ascendancy there, during his presidency, and even for a little bit after that," Fabrizio tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "But I was never witness to any of what Chris is saying, or at least what I’ve read as the account of what he’s saying.”
But did Wilson ever tell his boss about any of these incidents or allegations? “No, not that I recall, no,” says Fabrizio.
“I can tell you, I had never heard stories like this,” he says. “The NRA has lots of consultants, lots of lobbyists. I don't know how wide-spread this was. Maybe it was among the staff. I have no idea.”
“I generally dealt with Herman. Or very senior people at the NRA,” Fabrizio continues. “Chris [Wilson] was more the day-to-day guy on the account when he was with the firm. I kind of came and did the big drop-bys.”
“When you're dealing with the board members and stuff like that that's obviously not the type of stuff that comes up in conversation.”
So Fabrizio hasn't been in communication with Politico about the Cain story? “No, no," he says. "I talk to Politico reporters, but I don’t know that any of them are really aware that I--maybe now they know that I worked for Herman in 2004 because it got around the media."
Fabrizio says he's known Cain for nearly two decades and greatly respects him. “I worked for Herman when he ran for Senate in 2004,” he says. “I’ve known Herman when he did the NRA ads against Clintoncare back in 1993. I’ve known Herman for probably 18 years. Great guy.”
Fabrizio says he joined the Perry campaign "about two weeks ago," but it's nothing against Cain. “I’m very fond of Herman. I like him. We’ve stayed in contact over the years. My choice of working for Rick Perry has more to do with my belief that Rick Perry’s the better candidate against Barack Obama."
UPDATE II: Wilson emails THE WEEKLY STANDRD: "To be clear, and you can ask any of the reporters covering this story, I had nothing to do with leaking this in any way, and I've never discussed or shared this story with any of my clients – period."