TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former business executive running for Congress in a Kansas district fellow Democrats see as competitive dropped out of the race Friday over a 12-year-old federal lawsuit accusing her of sexually harassing a male employee she supervised.
Andrea Ramsey announced in a Facebook post that she was ending her campaign, calling allegations that she harassed her former subordinate and then retaliated against him "a lie." The lawsuit was filed by the former employee, Gary Funkhouser, against OneLab Inc., the Kansas City-area company where Ramsey worked as a vice president and dismissed after settlement talks.
Ramsey was seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd District in the Kansas City area, hoping to win the right to challenge four-term incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder next year. The district contains a mix of affluent, GOP-leaning suburbs and poorer, heavily Democratic city neighborhoods. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried it in last year's presidential election.
Ramsey's departure from the race represents an unusual case of a woman leaving a campaign, political office or other high-profile job over allegations of misconduct even as prominent men have been forced to step down in recent weeks. The Kansas City Star first reported about the lawsuit and said Ramsey dropped out after it asked her about the case.
Ramsey said "real change" has come in handling harassment complaints and timely and thorough investigations are "a very good thing." But, in her own case, she said, "These false allegations are disgraceful and demean the moment this country is in."
Funkhouser filed the federal lawsuit in October 2005, four months after he was fired as a human resources manager at OneLab. Ramsey, then known as Andrea Thomas, was the company's executive vice president for human resources, a position she left in April 2006 for another job.
Funkhouser said he rebuffed sexual advances from Ramsey and, after he did, she shunned him, moved his office, criticized his work and then fired him in June 2015. The company denied those allegations, and Ramsey was not named as a defendant.
In her Facebook post, Ramsey said she "eliminated an employee's position," calling Funkhouser "vindictive."
Court records show that Funkhouser and the company agreed that the case should be dismissed in July 2016 but provide no details. There was no answer at a home telephone listing for Funkhouser in the Kansas City area, and one of his lawyers declined to comment.
She was among five Democratic candidates but the only woman actively campaigning.