A DeKalb County woman says she carried on a 13-year affair with GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, landing another blow to a campaign already beset by charges of sexual harassment.
Cain, who is married, went on CNN before the accusation was made public Monday and declared it false. Cain acknowledged that he and the 46-year-old Dunwoody woman were friends.
“I did not have an affair, and until I see and hear exactly ... what accusations are going to be made, let’s move on,” Cain said on CNN.
Ginger White, a divorced mother of two with a long history of financial troubles, said in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta that she and Cain had an off-and-on physical relationship that ended shortly before he declared his candidacy in May. She said the relationship began in the 1990s.
In an interview Tuesday night, White told Channel 2 Action News that she came forward with her story now because she became aware of "leaks" to the media about the relationship.
"There were threats of people coming out with their version, not that any version was very pretty. But I thought it was important to at least come out with my story, my side of the story," White told Channel 2.
Cain told CNN White doesn’t have emails, letters, gifts or other possible evidence of an affair. But White produced copies of cellphone bills that showed more than 60 phone calls or text messages from his number. A Fox 5 reporter was shown on the broadcast sending a text message to the number from White’s bill. Someone identified as Cain returned the call and spoke briefly to the reporter. White also produced copies of two of Cain’s books that included personal inscriptions.
Cain told the station White had his number “because he was trying to help her financially.”
White has had numerous financial issues, including a bankruptcy and numerous evictions in DeKalb County. She was also once successfully sued for libel by a former business partner. White says she was unaware of the lawsuit and did not defend herself. Her attorney said she has struggled to find work. Cain gave her money at least once, according to the station.
The pair met, according to White, in Louisville, Ky., when Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association. They had drinks and he invited her to his hotel, she claims. Cain, a Stockbridge resident, would fly her around the country to cities where he was speaking, she said in the interview.
Cain “made [the affair] very intriguing,” she said. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time and it was exciting.”
Cain said that White’s allegations, like those who previously accused him of sexual harassment, “were baseless because they couldn’t come up with any documentation or anything that was credible.”
Lin Wood, an Atlanta attorney Cain hired to help him respond to a string of sexual harassment allegations, said accusations such these should be handled privately.
“This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace — this is not an accusation of an assault — which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate,” Wood said in a statement. “Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults, a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.”
Media interest in Cain’s personal life has intensified in recent months along with his once-soaring poll numbers and the string of sexual harassment claims that have dogged his campaign.
White chose to go public with the affair because she began getting calls from TV and Web-based media sites, said Edward Buckley, an Atlanta attorney who has represented White in the past.
“It was hitting a critical mass and she decided that she wanted to go on the record and be accurate,” Buckley said. The attorney said she feared where the intense media scrutiny on Cain the past few months would lead to her.
“It has been a concern that this would come out,” he said. “This was a great burden and now here it is.”
Cain was first hit with charges of sexual harassment in October, just as he was positioning himself as a front-runner for the GOP nomination. The Washington news outlet Politico first reported that two women accused Cain of harassment in 1999 while he was at the National Restaurant Association. Cain acknowledged that one of those women filed a sexual harassment complaint with the association; Cain later confirmed the woman was given a financial settlement.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that a third woman accused Cain of “sexually suggestive remarks or gestures.” Days later, on Nov. 7, a Chicago woman publicly accused Cain of groping her in his car in Washington in 1997.
Cain told CNN the allegations will not drive him from the race for the White House unless it proves too difficult for his wife.
“The thing I’m worried about is the impact it’s going to have on my wife and my family,” he said. “They should not be subjected to false accusations.”
White’s credibility will be up for inspection in the coming days as political analysts and media try to measure how this might affect Cain’s run for office.
Little is known about White, who was married to former University of Southern Mississippi basketball star John White for five years before divorcing in 1998, other than her financial struggles.
A check of court records found that White has been sued numerous times for allegedly not paying rent, including nine times this year in DeKalb County court, most of them by Ashford Park Apartments in Dunwoody.
Her mother, reached just after the TV report aired, had several people in her apartment talking in the background about the report but she politely passed on any comment to her daughter’s attorney.
Buckley acknowledged that his client — he represented her in a harassment case against an employer about a decade ago that was settled — has had debt issues come up in court.
“She’s had a difficult time finding employment and has struggled to make ends meet,” he said. “I don’t know if it makes her any less credible than you or me. I think she’s very credible and a nice individual.”
White told Channel 2 that she has no reason to lie and furthermore going public had already had her facing media scrutiny. Reporters were already tracking her down to her doorsteps.
“Who would want this? It’s really not been fun.”
The Associated Press and staff writers Ernie Suggs and Bill Torpy contributed
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