The Daily Caller reports on Hillary Clinton’s lack of interest in allegations of sexual harassment against a major donor. The donor, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, was accused of sexual harassment, in the strong sense, by a former employee, Jacqueline Long. Wyss denies the allegations.
The parties settled Long’s lawsuit for $1.5 million. The settlement contained a confidentiality agreement. Wyss’ lawyers say that Long “acknowledged that the agreement’s confidentiality was of the utmost importance and that without plaintiff’s unequivocal commitment to keep the settlement agreement and its terms confidential, defendant would not have entered into the agreement.”
After entering into the agreement, however, Long allegedly sought to advise Hillary Clinton of her allegations against Wyss. According to the Daily Caller, she sent documents to Clinton’s home in Washington, D.C. The documents were returned to Long, opened and resealed, from the former Secretary of State’s Chappaqua, New York home with the words “Will not Accept.”
Wyss is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. The Daily Caller says that last year he made a $5 million commitment to the Foundation’s “No Ceilings” project that purports to help women and girls, an effort personally championed by Hillary.
In response to Long’s post-settlement disclosures, Wyss has moved in court to have her reimburse him for the $1.5 million he paid in the settlement, as well $68,000 in attorney fees, and a daily fine of $200 until payment is completed. Wyss also asked the court to imprison Long if she fails pay in full within 30 days.
For obvious reasons, confidentiality clauses are usually a key element of settlements in cases where a defendant is accused of serious misconduct. It may well be that Wyss wouldn’t have paid Long anything without such an agreement, and it’s very likely that he wouldn’t have paid her $1.5 million.
However, confidentiality agreements do not bar third parties from accepting information from a plaintiff who promised to keep it confidential. Thus, Hillary Clinton was under no legal obligation to return Long’s documents “unaccepted.”
Under normal circumstances, a third party probably won’t want to see this sort of information if the defendant is a friend. Even if a friend isn’t involved, a third party might demur and, in any case, would do well to warn the plaintiff of the potential consequences of violating the terms of a settlement agreement.
But the Wyss-Long dispute doesn’t present normal circumstances. A charitable foundation might well be interested in allegations that a major donor to a project for helping women and girls engaged in serious sexual harassment (though some Clinton Foundation donors have perhaps done even worse). So might a presidential candidate who styles herself a feminist.
Concern about sexual harassment is a core feminist value (and a humanist value too, as long as the concept of sexual harassment isn’t distorted).
Hillary Clinton, though, has a history of tolerating, if not enabling, bad behavior by her husband — serial infidelity, predatory conduct (see Monica Lewinsky), sexual harassment (see Paula Jones), and very possibly sexual assault (see Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and perhaps others). Far from sympathizing with Bill’s victims, Hillary helped orchestrate attacks against them because they represented potential barriers to the fulfillment of her ambitions.
Confidentiality agreement or no confidentiality agreement, it’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton is interested in whether rich donors who can help her fulfill her ambition have sexually harassed their subordinates.