Kellyanne Conway could be drawn into case of Trump-endorsed candidate accused of sexual harassment

The former White House adviser has been working for Charles Herbster’s election as governor despite allegations that he groped several women

Johanna Chisholm
Thursday 05 May 2022 16:38
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Kellyanne Conway accuses TV pundits of getting their facts wrong

Former Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway could be called upon in the discovery phase of a lawsuit against her boss, gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, who is being sued by a Nebraska state senator for alleged sexual battery, according to reports.

Dave Lopez, the legal counsel representing state Sen Julie Slama, told Politico’s Daniel Lippman that he intends to find out what Ms Conway, a senior adviser to Mr Herbster, knew about the allegations of sexual harassment that have been levelled against the Trump-backed candidate, and when.

In April, Sen Slama filed a countersuit against the GOP candidate for governor, who’d initially filed a defamation lawsuit against the senator shortly after an exclusive investigation with the Nebraska Examiner reported last month that Ms Slama was one of the eight women who had come forward with allegations that Mr Herbster had groped them at political events and beauty pageants over the course of the last six years.

“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,” said Sen Slama’s counsel, Dave Lopez, in an emailed statement to the HuffPost last month.

“Senator Slama will vigorously defend herself against any such lawsuit,” the statement said, adding that Mr Herbster would be subjected to a “full scope of civil discovery” if he proceeded.

During that discovery phase, according to Politico, Mr Lopez intends to call on Mr Herbster’s senior adviser and former Trump aide, Ms Conway, who has served as a member of the election team for the Trump-backed candidate for the past year.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Herbster’s communications team for comment but did not hear back before publication. He has previously stated that he denies the allegations categorically, calling them “libelous accusations” that “are 100 per cent false”.

Mr Herbster’s lawsuit alleges that the Republican Nebraska senator acted with “actual malice” and her comments in the Nebraska Examiner investigation, in which she was initially the only person to identify themselves in the story by name, amount to “slander per se”.

Her statements provided to the Examiner are, he claims in the lawsuit, “politically motivated and groundless attack”.

Those views of the months-long investigation published by the Nebraska outlet being part of a larger smear campaign, cooked up by the current governor, Pete Ricketts, were reiterated by Ms Conway last month when she was a guest on Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room.

“Governor Ricketts mentioned to me 10 months ago, got in my face, at an RNC event,” she began while defending the campaign of Mr Herbster, who has never held public office, on Mr Bannon’s show. “We’re going to destroy Charles Herbster,” she said the current governor told her at the event.

She provided no additional evidence to support the theory that the sexual harassment allegations were part of a politically motivated attack on Mr Herbster.

The Independent reached out to Gov Ricketts for comment on Ms Conway’s allegations.

While Gov Ricketts has backed Mr Herbster’s Republican opponent in the race, Jim Pillen, former US president Mr Trump on Sunday attended a rally in Nebraska to offer up his official endorsement of the accused gubernatorial hopeful.

“He’s been maligned, he’s been maligned, he’s been badly maligned and that’s a shame,” the former reality star said. “That’s why I came out here it would have been easier for me to say I’m not coming out but I defend people when I know they’re good. He’s a good man.”

No details have been provided yet for when Ms Conway could be scheduled in a potential deposition, but Mr Herbster is expected to be deposed in Ms Slama’s case on Friday, just a few days ahead of the Nebraska primary on 10 May.

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