Former Trump administration White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she heard last year about “some kind of sexual allegations” against GOP Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster — but she’s working to get him elected anyway.
Conway alleged on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast that groping allegations raised by eight women, including a Republican state senator, were somehow cooked up by current Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who does not support Herbster, a corporate CEO who has never held office. Watch Conway on “War Room” in the video below.
Ricketts “got in my face” 10 months ago vowing to “destroy Charles Herbster,” said Conway. She offered nothing else in the way of proof that Ricketts is behind the assault accusations.
A key accuser is GOP state Sen. Julie Slama. She said in an emotional radio interview earlier this month that she was “in shock” at what she called an “assault” by Herbster at a Republican dinner in 2019.
As I was ... walking to my table, I felt a hand reach up my skirt, up my dress and the hand was Charles Herbster’s,” Slama said, her voice shaking, in an interview on News Radio KFAB in Omaha. “I was in shock. I was mortified. It’s one of the most traumatizing things I’ve ever been through.”
Slama added: “I watched as five minutes later he grabbed the buttocks of another young woman. ... This was witnessed by several people at the event.”
Slama talked of the intimidating, “huge power differential” making it difficult to speak out against “one of the biggest donors in the Nebraska Republican Party.”
As of Friday, Slama had not been served with a lawsuit, her legal team said in a statement. “To be sure, any claim that calls into question Senator Slama’s well-corroborated account of her sexual assault by Charles Herbster would be categorically without merit and frivolous,” the statement added.
— Aaron Sanderford (@asanderford) April 22, 2022
The allegations were uncovered after a monthslong investigation by the Nebraska Examiner, which corroborated six of the eight accusations with witnesses. Three people who either witnessed the incidents or heard of them shortly afterward have since identified themselves.
All of the alleged incidents occurred between 2017 and this year. Victims ranged in age from teens to their 20s, according to the Examiner.
All 13 female state senators in the Nebraska legislature, including five Republicans, issued a statement earlier this month condemning the “highly credible, corroborated allegations.”
“Sexual assault is despicable and damaging,” the senators said. “This is not a question of politics — it is an issue of character and basic human decency.” Herbster’s actions “make him unfit to serve,” the statement concluded.
Conway also attacked Slama’s credibility on “War Room,” pointing out that she accepted a $10,000 campaign donation after the incident, and invited Herbster to her wedding. Herbster says he has highlighted the exact same points in his lawsuit as proof that he did not grope Slama.
Bannon found it hilarious, but such behavior is not unusual for victims attempting to placate an attacker and avoid further incidents or retaliation.
“I was scared and felt obligated to meet with my attacker, Charles Herbster, because he is my constituent, a Republican mega-donor, and leading candidate for Nebraska governor. I was terrified that in addition to sexually assaulting me, he would try to ruin my public reputation — which is exactly what he is trying to do now,” Slama said earlier.
Herbster, owner and CEO of Conklin Co. and a sometimes beauty pageant judge, has been a front-runner in the race for Nebraska governor.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.