DES MOINES, Iowa – The Republican Party of Iowa urged Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken to release a former campaign manager from the nondisclosure agreement following her accusation that the retired three-star admiral kissed her without permission.
Kimberley Strope-Boggus told the Des Moines Police that Franken grabbed the collar of her vest and kissed her after meeting her for drinks in March to offer her a new role with his campaign following her termination as his campaign manager. Republicans said that the nondisclosure agreement she signed could prevent Strope-Boggus from discussing the accusation further.
The Des Moines Police closed the case as “unfounded” after consulting with the Polk County Attorney’s Office as Strope-Boggus said she did not believe Franken intended to harm or sexually assault her and the police report first reported on and released by Iowa Field Report noted there was insufficient information to pursue the complaint.
“Nondisclosure agreements are used to keep victims silent. While Franken is free to call the victim a liar, he’s forcing her into silence,” Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said.
The Franken campaign refuted that remark.
“No agreement exists that prevents any employee of our campaign — past or present — from speaking out on this issue. These accusations are false and deceitful insinuations from political opponents,” Julie Stauch, Franken’s campaign manager told The Des Moines Register in a statement.
Democratic candidates have mostly kept quiet about the accusation. State Rep. Christiana Bohannan, D-Iowa City, who is running in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, running for re-election in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear have not made a public statement.
State Senator Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, running in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, addressed the accusation without criticizing Franken directly.
“Although it is my understanding investigators found that no criminal act occurred and the case was closed after being deemed unfounded by police, it is an important reminder that workplaces and law enforcement should encourage women to feel comfortable coming forward with any allegations of inappropriate conduct. From my work as an advocate for victims of neglect and assault, I reaffirm my victim-focused and zero-tolerance stance against all forms of sexual harassment,” she said in a released statement on Monday.
U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, called the accusation “deeply troubling.”
During the press call on Monday, Kaufmann pointed to Franken’s opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who cosponsored a bill the “Speak Out Act” that passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that ensures victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment are not forced into silence by nondisclosure agreements.
“People who experience sexual harassment or assault should be able to demand accountability in the courtroom or the public square, and a nondisclosure agreement shouldn’t bar survivors from sharing their stories if they so choose. This bipartisan bill makes clear that survivors have a right to speak out about sexual harassment or assault regardless of any prior agreement they signed. I’m grateful that the committee spoke with one voice today to advance this commonsense bill,” Grassley said in a released statement following the vote last Thursday.