Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to hire a chief deputy previously accused of sexual harassment is the target of a new Republican-financed attack ad that aims to dent the Democratic incumbent’s support from women.
The 30-second spot released Thursday by the Republican Governors Association’s PAC comes as national GOP leaders step up efforts to keep the Deep South’s only Democratic governor from outright victory in the Oct. 12 election.
The RGA ad reminds voters about Johnny Anderson, who had been accused in a prior government job of sexual misconduct by multiple women and who left Edwards’ office in 2017 after new allegations emerged in one of Louisiana’s highest-profile #MeToo cases.
Showing photos of Anderson and Edwards, a female narrator recounts the allegations, saying: “Anderson had already been investigated for sexually harassing six women. Edwards hired him anyway. It happened again.”
The narrator urges: “Speak for the victims. Vote against John Bel Edwards.”
Edwards tapped Anderson to be deputy chief of staff for programs and planning, overseeing the office of women’s policy, even after several women lodged sexual misconduct allegations against Anderson a decade earlier. In 2006, multiple female employees at Southern University accused Anderson of harassment when he worked for then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco and was the university system board chairman.
A year into the Edwards administration, a woman who worked with Anderson in the governor’s office again accused Anderson of harassment, and he left his post in November 2017. Taxpayers paid for a settlement and legal costs that reached nearly $108,000. Anderson continues to deny wrongdoing in both the 2006 and 2017 allegations.
Watch the ad: