One woman, Leigh Corfman, told the “Washington Post” that as a 14-year-old, Moore had initiated sexual contact her.
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GOP officials from Alabama have been giving strange responses to questions about the allegations that Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama senator, had sexual encounters with underage girls years ago. Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale contacted many GOP officials from the state. many have denied the claims. Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall reportedly stated, “It was 40 years ago.” He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.” Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow’s response was, “I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn’t want to vote for [Democratic nominee Doug Jones]. I’m not saying I support what he did.”
Roy Moore pushed back against accusations that he pursued relationships with teenagers while an assistant district attorney in Etowah County in the early 80s, while the women who accused him stood by their stories.
Roy Moore, Republican nominee for Senate, speaks at an endorsement event on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. Thirteen Alabama Sheriff’s endorsed Roy Moore. (Photo: Albert Cesare / Advertiser)
In a statement released by the campaign Friday afternoon, the former Alabama chief justice denied allegations that he had sexual contact in 1979 with a 14-year-old while serving a 32-year-old prosecutor – under the age of consent of 16 – and buying wine for an 18-year-old.
“I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct,” the statement said. “As a father of a daughter and a grandfather of five granddaughters, I condemn the actions of any man who engages in sexual misconduct not just against minors but against any woman.”
The women stood by their statements to the Washington Post, and an attorney for Gloria Deason the woman who said Moore took her on dates and bought her wine when she was 18, blasted Moore and several Republican county chairmen who have dismissed the charges, or said they would not affect their support for Moore, even if proven true.
“In short, these leaders don’t care,” said Paula Cobia, the attorney for Gloria Deason, in a statement. “This is a stunning admission that the GOP is not a party of family values, certainly not in Alabama.”
Speaking on conservative talk show host Sean Hannity’s radio program Friday, Moore said he did not know Leigh Corfman, who accused him of sexual contact when she was 14, though he acknowledged knowing two of the other women in the story. Moore told Hannity that dating teenagers was “not my customary behavior” at the time.
Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore speaks to members of the press after speaking to the Alabama Federation of Republican women in Prattville, Ala., on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (Photo: Albert Cesare / Advertiser)
“I’m not going to dispute anything, but I don’t remember anything like that,” he said. “I don’t remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
Corfman told WBRC in Birmingham that she stood by the account she gave to the Washington Post.
“The article is very detailed,” the station quoted her as saying. “Anyone with questions should please re-read it. And I want to say thank you to my friends and others who have supported me and my story.”
The fallout from the report led two Republican senators – Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana – to withdraw their endorsements of Moore and the National Republican Senate Committee to cancel a fundraising agreement with him. And while county chairs and some Republican officials expressed strong support for Moore, state Republican Party officials did not respond to questions for the second straight day.
The development also provided an unexpected opening for Democrats. Doug Jones, the party’s Senate nominee, has been crisscrossing the state and holding his own in fundraising. Democratic reactions varied, but generally referenced an uphill battle in a Republican state.
Janet May, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Conference, said Friday the Moore issue was “certainly in the forefront” of their efforts.
“We’re continuing to do what we know needs to be done, which is get the vote out,” she said. “We’ve been singularly focused on GOTV.”
Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Richard Mauk said the allegations were motivating Democrats there.
The Washington Post has reported that four women alleged that Roy Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and Moore was an adult man in his thirties. Moore has denied the allegations.
“It has energized us like nothing before,” Mauk said. “I think that it’s time people of Alabama need to vote for the person not the party. Competency vs. sensationalism.”
Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan did not respond to requests for comment Friday. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston – who have both endorsed Moore – also did not respond to requests for comment.
Pat Wilson, chair of the Montgomery County Executive Committee, struck a cautious note.
“These are allegations, and we need to wait to have more evidence,” she said. She declined a follow-up question on what that evidence would be.
Moore had been running a low-key campaign before the allegations hit on Thursday, doing relatively few public appearances and largely allowing Jones to dominate the airwaves. Consultants differed on how the campaigns should handle the charges.
U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones talks with the media after meeting with Alabama State University students at Touch of Soul Cafe in Montgomery, Ala. on Wednesday November 8, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)
“My sense is Jones should probably continue to focus on his own message,” said Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster with the Montgomery-based firm of Anzalone Liszt Grove. “People are getting this story. This is not something that needs to be spoonfed to voters.”
David Mowery, a Montgomery consultant who has worked for Democrats and Republicans and ran a campaign against Moore in 2012, said the Moore campaign’s attacks on the Post were probably the best strategy they had: “Just fight on that and communicate to the people they had ID’d in the primary and the runoff.” He also suggested Jones should try to appeal to moderate GOP voters, particularly women, by adopting a stance in favor of tax reform or finding Republican surrogates willing to speak for him.
“If you’re Jones, you have to say ‘I have a chance to win,’” he said. “A lot of times people think Roy is unbeatable and they think ‘Screw it. We’re stuck with him.’”