Things continue to take many twists and turns in Alabama’s special Senate election to replace Jeff Sessions.
The latest was that there’s a faux robocall going around to voters in Alabama looking for damaging information on Republican candidate Roy Moore. The recorded voice on the other end of the robocall tells callers that Lenny Bernstein, a reporter from The Washington Post is seeking strictly females to contact him with any damaging information.
Initially, it was thought that the voice recording said the reporter was “Bernie Bernstein.” However, it’s since been determined the voice on the other line claimed to be Lenny Bernstein, a health and medicine reporter for The Post.
The Post has denied playing a role in the robocall, saying in a statement there was absolutely no merit to the claims.
Here’s what you need to know about Bernstein and the incident:
1. The Robocall Asks People to Send Damaging Information on Moore to an Email Address in Exchange for Money
According to WKRG News, at least one person residing in Alabama received the robocall. The news outlet cites Pastor Al Moore, who lives in Creola, Alabama. Pastor Moore claims that he received the robocall November 14, and a voicemail message was left inquiring about the damaging information for a sum of money.
Listen to the full call below:
Hi, this is Lenny Bernstein, I’m a reporter for the Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5000 and $7000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at email@example.com, thank you.
Pastor Moore told WKRG that he had no idea who may be behind the message, and said he emailed the corresponding address, but it came back as undelivered.
2. The Post & Bernstein Have Denied the Claims in Statements
The Washington Post Executive editor Marty Baron said in a written statement to WKRG News that he’s baffled someone would stoop to that low of a level to try and undermine factual reporting.
“The Post has just learned that at least one person in Alabama has received a call from someone falsely claiming to be from The Washington Post,” the statement said. “The call’s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.”
Lenny Bernstein commented on the matter on his personal Twitter account, saying thanks to those that have supported him.
In addition, various colleagues of Bernstein’s vouched for him, saying he was doing “real journalism.”
John Rodgers of the Roy Moore for Senate campaign denied it had anything to do with the phone call and added that it’s the first time he’s ever heard of this type of robocall.
3. The Real Bernstein Has Worked at The Post Since 2000
According to his LinkedIn profile, Lenny Bernstein graduated from the University of Michigan in 1979 and soon enough found himself at the Los Angeles Times doing “various” reporting for 15 years.
In March 2000, he landed a position at The Post, where he served as a deputy national editor until June 2008. He served as the assistant metro editor at the newspaper for nearly two years before becoming the assistant sports editor for three years.
For less than one year, he worked as an environment writer before moving to his current position as the health and medicine reporter at the newspaper.
4. The Call Comes After 4 Women Have Accused Roy Moore of Sexual Misconduct in a Washington Post Story
The fake robocalls to voters come at a time when the Moore campaign is dealing with at least five allegations of sexual misconduct which were said to have taken place decades ago.
The Washington Post came out with a bombshell report November 9, telling the stories of four women who accuse Moore of having relationships with them — some who were minors at the time.
One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said she was just 14-years old when Moore initiated a sexual encounter between the two.
In her story, Corfman said that Moore approached her when she was outside of a courtroom in Etowah County, Alabama. Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney at the time, and Corfman claims she gave her phone number to him.
Corfman said that just a few days later, Moore picked her up from her house and they went to his home. On the first date, Corfman says the two kissed. Things escalated on the second, she claims. After Moore picked her up, she said he touched her over her bra and underwear. She added that Moore took her hand and put it over his underwear.
“I wasn’t ready for that,” she told The Post. “I had never put my hand on a man’s penis, much less an erect one.”
In addition, Corfman said Moore of gave her alcohol during that encounter, though the legal drinking age in Alabama at the time was 19.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she told the newspaper. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
Corfman said that Moore took her home following the encounter, calling him “charming and smiley.”
Another woman, Gloria Thacker Deason, told The Post she entered a relationship with him when she was 18. Deason said that Moore would often pick her up for dates from the community college she attended or the jewelry store she worked at.
The two went out on numerous dates, she said, and drank alcohol although she was underage. Deason’s mother was strict and typically wouldn’t allow her to meet past 10:30 p.m., but because she thought highly of Moore, “she just felt like I would be safe with him,” Deason said in her account of their relationship.
Deason said the two dated off and on for “several months,” adding she took her to his home more than once. However, their physical relationship never got any further than kissing and hugging, she said.
5. The Call Came 1 Day After a 5th Accuser Told her Story at a Press Conference
While those four women told their stories in The Post story, a fifth came forward with allegations at a November 14 press conference alongside attorney Gloria Allred.
Beverly Young Nelson told the story of her past relationship with Moore. She claims that she was a 16-year-old waitress at an Alabama restaurant — one which Moore frequented — when the sexual assault took place.
Nelson’s alleged sexual encounter with Moore took place in December 1977, she said. As she left the restaurant after a shift and awaited her boyfriend to pick her up, she said Moore approached her outside. With her boyfriend running late, she said Moore offered her a ride home and she agreed because she trusted him.
“I thought he was simply doing something nice by offering to drive me home,” she said. “I did not want to wait outside in the cold, so I agreed.”
Because cell phones didn’t exist back then, she said that she intended on calling her boyfriend to let him know she got a ride once she got home.
Instead of driving on the highway, though, she claims Moore drove to the back of the restaurant between dumpsters and parked where there were no lights. Nelson said she questioned what he was doing, and he suddenly started putting his hands on her against her will.
“I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and he locked it so I could not get out,” she described. “I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop. But instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I continued to struggle. I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified, he was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and I was begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.”
She said that at some point, Moore gave up and threatened her, saying: “You’re just a child, I am the district attorney of Etowah County. And if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.”
Nelson said that Moore allowed her to open the door and leave, but wasn’t sure if he pushed her out. Either way, she claims she was on the ground as Moore sped away with the passenger-side door open. As she got up and went back to the front of the restaurant, her boyfriend arrived and picked her up.
“It was late, it was dark and I didn’t say anything to him as to what occurred,” Young said about what she said to her boyfriend. “When I got home, I went to my room, and the following morning my neck was black and blue and purple. In the days following, I covered the bruising on my neck with makeup. I did not tell anyone what had happened. I was scared. I felt that if I told anyone that Mr. Moore would do something to me or my family.”
Nelson said that one day after the alleged assault, she quit the restaurant and never went back.
In the years that followed, Nelson said she only told close family members about what happened.
Moore Claims He Will Sue The Post
Since the allegations of Moore’s sexual misconduct from decades ago have come to light, he’s vehemently denied them, labeling them “fake news” and a “desperate attack” by Democrats trying to ruin his campaign ahead of the December 12 special Senate election.
“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and The Washington Post on this campaign,” he said in a statement. “If any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now.”
On November 12, Moore threatened to sue The Post over the allegations.
“The Washington Post published another attack on my character and reputation because they are desperate to stop my political campaign,” he said during a campaign speech. “These attacks said I was with a minor child and are false and untrue — and for which they will be sued.”
Moore continued, asking why, after 40 years of being “scrutinized in the press,” the allegations would come out one month away from the Senate election?
I want to make this clear: I have not provided alcoholic beverages to a minor. I have not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone. These allegations come only four weeks—30 days, about—before the general election. Why now? For 40 years I’ve been so scrutinized in the press, investigated by the attorney general at one time years ago, investigated by the Judicial Inquiry Commission of the Court of the Judiciary. I’ve run five statewide campaigns, every one of them hotly contested. Three county elections, every one of them hotly contested. And you know I’ve been at the center of two national controversies over religious liberty, one over the Ten Commandments—the other over same-sex marriage.
To think that these charges come just 30 days prior to the general election is incomprehensible.
The next day, Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, wrote in a lengthy post on her personal Facebook account that the Moore campaign is continuing to gather evidence which shows all of the accusers against her husband were paid to come forward.
“We knew something was coming, just did not know what next,” she wrote. “This is the same Gloria Allred that did the very exact same thing to Trump during his campaign. Going on two months now they’ve been on a witchhunt here in Etowah County and our state advertising people to step forward with accusations and we are gathering evidence of money being paid to people who would come forward.”