Ex-congressional aide is second woman to make accusation against Biden
A former congressional aide to Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., says then-Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately at a 2009 fundraiser, the second woman to make allegations against Biden in the past week.
Biden has long been known for his intimate physical style, and the appropriateness of his behavior toward women is coming under scrutiny as he nears an announcement on a potential 2020 presidential bid.
Late last week, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state legislator, wrote an essay in which she said Biden acted inappropriately toward her at a 2014 campaign event and made her feel uncomfortable.
In a comment Sunday on a “Connecticut Women in Politics” Facebook post that shared Flores’ story, the former congressional aide, Amy Lappos, said Biden “did something similar to me” at a Greenwich, Conn., fundraiser for Himes.
“I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable,” Lappos wrote under the pseudonym “Alice Paul,” according to the Hartford Courant. “We need to hold our men to the same standards we hold all men.”
The “Alice Paul” account includes photos of Lappos and has pictures in common with Lappos’ personal Facebook account.
Lappos went on the record about the alleged incident in an interview Monday with the Courant.
She said Biden, then 66, moved toward her while she was in the kitchen with several other volunteers at the private residence where the fundraiser was being held.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” she told the newspaper. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Lappos, 43, did not immediately respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment.
Lappos worked as an aide to Himes from January 2009 to November 2016, primarily as a constituent services representative and grants coordinator, according to Legistorm, a congressional research firm. Her LinkedIn page lists her as the owner of Moma Grants, a freelance grant-writing service.
A Biden spokesman referred the Washington Post to a statement the former vice president issued Sunday, in which Biden said he had offered “countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort” during his years in public life,”and not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately.”
Himes was not immediately available for comment.
In her interview with the Courant, Lappos said she did not report the alleged 2009 incident at the time because “he was the vice president. I was a nobody.”
She said she believed Biden’s behavior had crossed a line of “decency” and “respect.”
“Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny,” she said.
The $1,000-per-ticket fundraiser took place Oct. 5, 2009, at the Greenwich home of Ron Moelis, an affordable-housing developer.
The event was covered for the Stamford Advocate by Neil Vigdor, the reporter who broke the story about Lappos’ allegations on Monday for the Courant.
According to Vigdor’s 2009 piece, Biden spoke for about 19 minutes on the Moelis home’s rear terrace to an audience of 150 Connecticut Democrats, including Richard Blumenthal and Dannel Malloy. Blumenthal, now the state’s senior senator, was then the state’s attorney general; Malloy, who served as governor from 2011 to 2019, was Stamford’s mayor at the time.
Biden touted Himes’ record at the event, according to Vigdor’s story.
“I’ve campaigned for a lot of congressmen over my career,” the then-vice president said of Himes. “My lord, Rhodes Scholar, Wall Street. I think we got you straight out of Central Casting.”
Himes reportedly said: “There is nobody in Washington, D.C., with the heart that Joe Biden has.”
Lappos has voted as a registered Democrat in the past, voter records show.
Her personal Facebook page prominently displays a black-and-white photo of five female Democratic presidential candidates: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. The photo was posted Feb. 21.
A day before her allegations were reported by the Courant, Lappos commented on Biden on Facebook, republishing text that criticized his performance during past presidential bids, along with the performance of other male presidential candidates in past elections.
“THIS – elect women already. Geeze,” she wrote.
Biden said in his Sunday statement that he will “listen respectfully” to anyone who says he acted inappropriately toward them. At the same time, his team has pushed back against what it views as unfair criticism.
On Monday, Biden spokesman Bill Russo released a “Note on Recent Coverage” that highlighted the backstory behind two photos that have been widely circulated as evidence of Biden’s highly physical style.
In a 2015 photo with Stephanie Carter, wife of then-incoming Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Biden is holding her shoulders and leaning in to whisper something in her ear.
Carter wrote in a Medium post on Sunday night that Biden “kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support” on the day of her husband’s swearing-in.
In 2015 photos with Maggie Coons, the then-13-year-old daughter of Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., Biden is leaning toward her and whispering something before kissing the side of her head.
While the girl appeared to react with discomfort, Christopher Coons told the Post that there was nothing inappropriate in the encounter – “she did not think of it as anything.”