Throwback News: Greenwich Candidate’s Political Career Cut Short Amid Sexual Harassment Suit
Originally posted August 5, 2016.
With the top of the Democratic ticket — all the way up to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — pressuring him to quit due to a sexual harassment scandal, Greenwich Democrat Marc Abrams has withdrawn his General Assembly campaign in the 149th District.
Frank Farricker, chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, on Friday confirmed Abrams’ exit from the race against seven-term Republican incumbent Livvy Floren.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Abrams reiterated his innocence against allegations that he harassed and discriminated against two female employees while a partner at Manhattan-based hedge fund Titan Capital Group, but said he was leaving the race for the good of his family.
“I was ready before and ready now to win this election based on the merits,” Abrams said in an email to supporters and the media. “But my first priority is to my family and, although they understood these false allegations may be brought up, we never fathomed the level of viciousness.”
The decision marked a sharp reversal of course from Thursday, when Abrams refused to heed calls from House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, to step down.
On Friday the governor got involved.
“These are very serious allegations and Mr. Abrams did the right thing suspending his campaign until such time as there’s a determination of these allegations,” Mark Bergman, a senior campaign adviser to Malloy, told Hearst Connecticut Media on Friday. “Connecticut cannot — and will not — tolerate this type of alleged behavior.”
Several of Malloy’s top political advisers pressured local party leaders to pull the plug on Abrams’ candidacy Friday morning, including the governor’s chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, and longtime strategist Roy Occhiogrosso, a person with knowledge of the conversation told Hearst on the condition of anonymity.
The full court press culminated with a call from Malloy himself, during which the governor told local party officials that he would not be able to support Abrams and would be forced to publicly denounce his party’s candidate in the 149th District, which straddles Greenwich and Malloy’s home city of Stamford.
“I won’t acknowledge the governor’s private phone call,” Bergman said.
Farricker echoed Bergman.
“I really don’t want to characterize my discussions with state party officials,” Farricker said. “I support Marc’s decision, and I’m only focused on winning seats for the Democrats in Greenwich.” But Abrams said the governor did not call him personally and that increased pressure from Democratic leaders had no impact on the decision to end his candidacy and the state party simply advised he do what was best for his family. State and local Democrats, he said, were well aware of the pending lawsuit from the earliest stages of his candidacy.
“Something that has been said to me by people who are misguided is that, somehow, I had been keeping this a secret,” said Abrams. “That’s simply ridiculous.”
Sharkey, in a statement Friday to Hearst, expressed relief over Abrams’ withdrawal from the race.
“I welcome Marc’s decision to end his candidacy,” Sharkey said. “This is the right thing to do and is in the best interest of everyone involved.”
Other high-ranking Democrats have commended the decision.
“These are serious allegations and the case is still pending,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn.”Marc’s decision to suspend his campaign was the right thing to do until these allegations are resolved.”
Abrams, 44, is one of the defendants in a 2010 lawsuit filed by two women, Cristina Culicea and Danielle Pecile, who were his employees when he worked at Titan Capital with his brother, Russell.
The litigation alleges the Abrams brothers had a long history of sexual advances and abusive, misogynistic and threatening behavior toward the plaintiffs.
In an interview with Hearst on Friday, Abrams continued to characterize the lawsuit as frivolous and expressed certainty that he would be exonerated of the often lurid claims.
The suit is currently being litigated in New York State Superior Court and remains in the discovery phase, with trial still at least a year off, legal sources say.
Following the trial, Abrams plans to return to public life. “There’s not a question in my mind that I will be exonerated for these last details, and when that occurs I have no doubt I’ll be engaged in public service again,” he said. “I love to give back and feel a responsibility to do it.”
Abrams’s name could still be listed on ballots in the 149th District on Election Day. The town began distributing absentee and overseas ballots last week while Abrams was still in the race. Town Clerk Carmella Budkins said she needs clearance from the Secretary of the State’s office and a letter of resignation from Abrams’ camp, neither of which she had received by Friday afternoon, to remove his name.
Democrats haven’t won a House seat in Greenwich since 1912.
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Source: Neil Vigdorand, Justin Pottle, Greenwich Candidate Withdraws From Race, (The Greenwich Time, (Oct. 10, 2014) available at http://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Greenwich-candidate-withdraws-from-race-5814991.php
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