WASHINGTON, DC -- The candidacy of Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, already listing from a journalistic torpedo fired by Politico.com when it reported Cain sexually harrassed a former staffer at the National Restaurant Association during his tenure as president of that trade association, may be capsizing tonight.
Washington attorney Joel Bennett, representing one of Cain's alleged accusers, phoned in live to Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN earlier this evening and said his client is considering whether to ask the restaurant lobbying group to lift the non-disclosure portion of her settlement agreement so she may discuss Cain's alleged behaviors toward her.
Bennett rocked Cooper and his guest panelists when the attorney said he understood that the Politico.com story was launched when the news outlet was contacted by a "present or former board member" of the restaurant trade group, sometimes known around Washington as "the other NRA," to differentiate it from the National Rifle Association.
The National Restaurant Association, of which Cain served as a board member and board chair before serving as the group's president from 1996 until 1999, is among the largest and most powerful lobbying organizations in the capital.
Bennett said his client had contacted him when the Politico.com story broke and currently "is mulling over" what she wants to do to get her side of the story out. The lawyer said the non-disclosure clause was part of the settlement she reached with the NRA in the wake of her allegations of sexual harrassment against Herman Cain, an agreement which also included a "non-disparagement" clause.
That Cain has been asserting the sexual harrassment accusation was "false," and that there was "nothing to it," apparently is part of why the accuser is considering her options and how to tell her side of the story.
Bennett, her attorney, said that while he has not yet made direct overtures to the restaurant association, he is hoping it will grant his client a waiver allowing her speak about the matter.
Beyond the immediate political thunder Bennett's appearance on CNN has generated, his suggestion the story originated with a person affiliated presently or in the past with the National Restaurant Association may cool rampant speculation in Washington about who launched the damaging information at Herman Cain.
Conservative personalities have been accusing "left-wing media" and others, while Google searches of the terms: "Did Rove sink Cain?" provoke literally millions of hits, following Rove's recent television appearances downplaying Cain's seriousness and overall competence of his campaign, suspicions Rove has repeatedly denied.
All of which shifts the tides of political fortune of other Republican contenders for the privilege of taking a drubbing by the incumbent President, who continues to drift seemingly quite happily above the fray while the Repubs engage in their bizarre brand of "cage fighting" and a "scorched earth" policy reminiscent of Teddy Kennedy's toward the hapless Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Meanwhile the Congress meanders so far down in the polls that rogues are asking whether there can be "minus approval" ratings below the single digits the body currently enjoys.