A former staffer for Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, the top Democrat on the House education committee, alleged in a Friday news conference that he made inappropriate sexual advances to her several years ago, and had also touched her inappropriately.
M. Reese Everson told reporters in Virginia that in 2013, while working for Scott as a Congressional Black Caucus fellow, the lawmaker inappropriately propositioned her. After she rejected Scott’s advances, she said, she ultimately lost her job and had suffered damage to her career prospects. Everson was also represented at the news conference by Jack Burkman, a Washington lobbyist who has promoted politically slanted conspiracy theories about the death of a Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich.
In a statement, Scott denied the allegations, saying, “I have never sexually harassed anyone in my 25 years of service in the United States Congress,or in my 40 years of public service, or at any other time.”
The allegations first emerged earlier this year, Roll Call reported late last month that Everson made accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the congressman in several interviews. Scott told Roll Call at that time that he was unaware of any “credible complaints” against him, but did confirm that Everson had worked for him. Everson had scheduled a press conference for the end of November, but that she subsequently did not appear at the event.
According to Everson comments at the Friday news conference, in 2013 she went to Scott’s office to ask him about an upcoming trip he planned to take to California and whether she would accompany him. She said that when she asked him if she would accompany him as a staffer on the trip, he asked her, “Well, are you going to be good?” Everson said she initially didn’t understand him, but when she responded yes, Scott wondered why she would come if she planned to be good. She then said Scott asked her if she would flirt with him. When Everson said she told him no and added, “Don’t flatter yourself,” she said Scott became angry.
According to Everson, when she tried to deflect his attention by highlighting other women who he interacted with, including a reporter, Scott said, “I like journalists. But I like attorneys too.” At that point, according to Everson, she realized she “had to get the heck out of there” and left. But she said that she was punished for how she reacted to Scott’s advances and ultimately lost her position.
She also alluded to previous times that she said Scott had touched her on the knee and the back, but said that at the time she dismissed those instances of physical contact.
“I was wrongfully terminated and I was blackballed, or blacklisted, whatever the appropriate term is. I was prevented from moving forward in my carer because I attempted to run from a situation that was sexually inappropriate,” Everson said at the press conference.
Roll Call also noted that Burkman changed his mind about representing Everson late last month and said he would no longer represent her. However, Burkman appeared with Everson and spoke on her behalf at Friday’s news conference. Burkman has previously promoted conspiracy theories about Seth Rich, a former staffer for the Democratic National Committee who was murdered last year. Burkman hosts a TV show on Newsmax, a conservative news website.
In 2014, the Washington Post reported that Burkman and Everson were part of a pitch for a reality TV show—Everson was identified as a member of Burkman and Associates.
Scott was one of the authors of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the main federal K-12 law. He’s also been an advocate for bolstering equity and civil rights in public issues, among other issues.
Education Week recently reported on the issue of sexual harassment in schools.
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