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EXCLUSIVE: After five women made accusations of sexual harassment against one of Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s 2018 campaign consultants, a Democratic operative who has ties to many high-profile people in the party, the congresswoman condemned the consultant in a statement to Fox News.
T.J. Bucholz, owner of Vanguard Public Affairs, has been accused of sexually harassing former employees in stories by the Detroit Free Press and Eclectablog last week.
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“The behavior and events described in the accusations against T.J. Bucholz are reprehensible. I commend the courage of all the women who have shared their painful experience working for and with T.J. Bucholz,” Tlaib said in a statement.
“My campaign ended involvement with T.J. Bucholz and Vanguard Public Affairs in December 2019 for unrelated reasons,” Tlaib continued. “My campaign team and I were not aware of any accusations against T.J. Bucholz during our contractual relationship, and would have ended our ties immediately if we had known of any allegations.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., questions CDC Principal Deputy Secretary Dr. Anne Schuchat as she speaks before a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on lung disease and e-cigarettes on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Activist and consultant Emily Dievendorf detailed Bucholz’s alleged harassment in a Facebook post on March 18, prompting more women to come forward.
“On other days he would call me over to his desk and ask me to look at his phone. On it were pictures of his wife in a bikini. He would pepper me with questions about whether I thought she was attractive and whether I would have a threesome with them. He would tell me that he had already brought this up with her and she was all for it,” Dievendorf said.
Another staffer said Bucholz threatened to photoshop her in a “sexually compromised position” if she ever left Vanguard Public Affairs, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Bucholz’s alma mater, Central Michigan University, said it is cutting ties with his firm and placed a staff member who may have known about the harassment on administrative leave pending an investigation, MLive.com reported.
Tlaib’s campaign paid Bucholz’s firm more than $21,000 in 2018 and more than $5,000 in 2019, according to FEC filings first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
Tlaib tweeted at Bucholz and Vanguard after her 2018 victory.
“Couldn’t have done it without you!” she wrote.
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Another Michigan Democrat, Rep. Andy Levin, paid Bucholz’s firm more than $50,000 in 2018, according to FEC filings.
“The Levin campaign ended our relationship with Vanguard years ago,” a campaign spokeswoman told Fox News in a statement. “Rep. Levin was really sad to learn about what was happening. He admires the bravery of all the women who came forward and hopes we are entering a new era where women in politics and in Lansing are respected and enjoy safer workplaces free from discrimination.”
Fox News’ inquiry to Vanguard Public Affairs was not returned at the time of publication.
Fox News’ Cameron Cawthorne contributed to this report.
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