Herman Cain believes that he has found the fingerprints on the knife in his back in the expanding sexual harassment scandal . . . Rick Perry. The Cain camp has said it was Perry’s campaign that leaked the story to Politico in a hit job on Cain. Of course, there still remains the question of who told the Perry campaign about the allegations in the confidential settlement. Yet, according to the New York Times article below, there were plenty of folks who were aware of the allegations — and contradict Cain’s account. In a race to the bottom, Perry’s people have pointed fingers at the Romney camp.
Cain says that a top political adviser to Mr. Perry leaked the details and that the adviser learned of the allegation while working on Cain’s failed bid for the Senate in 2004. Attention also has been focused today on a Perry pollster who worked for the National Restaurant Association during that period.
Perry insists the allegation is “reckless and false,” which leads to a question of whether any of this could result in a defamation charge. As is often the case, politicians often cry falsehoods but never bring such charges where the true culprit would be exposed in discovery. Someone is clearly lying not just about the original harassment allegations but the source of the recent disclosures. It would appear that both would be grounds for defamation. The sexual harassment claims raise moral turpitude and illegality. The charge of being the source of the scandal raise allegations of lying and bad practices. Both could be placed within common law categories of “per se” defamation.
There is no liability for raising the controversy for the Perry adviser unless he violated a confidentiality rule, such as acquiring the information as an attorney in a representational role. However, repeating defamation is defamation — in this case potential per se slander.
It is unlikely that either camp seriously wants to find itself in discovery. Thus, we will continue to have both camps scream liar, liar without litigation — or resolution. What is interesting are the new sources claiming that the details of the harassment claims would end the Cain campaign. Cain and the restaurant association will be likely under greater pressure to waive the confidentiality rule, as discussed earlier.
Source: NY Times