Amy Lappos is a former congressional aide who accused former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriately touching her in 2009.
Lappos, a former aide to Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, alleged in a Facebook comment that then-Vice President Biden inappropriately touched her and rubbed his nose against hers during a fundraiser in Greenwich.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told The Hartford Courant. “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, said she did not report the incident because she felt Biden was more powerful than her.
Biden has not yet commented on Lappos’ allegations but denied that he ever intended to inappropriately touch anyone after a former Nevada Democratic candidate similarly accused him of inappropriate touching.
“If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” Lappos told The Hartford Courant.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Amy Lappos Says Biden Inappropriately Touched Her at a Fundraiser
Lappos made the allegations under the pseudonym Alice Paul in a Facebook comment Sunday on a post about Lucy Flores, a Nevada politician who alleged Biden inappropriately touched her and kissed her head.
“Biden did something similar to me at a fundraiser in Greenwich when I was a Congressional Aide,” Lappos wrote. “I’m really disappointed to see this post ask ‘thoughts’ as if the grossness of men invading women’s boundaries to sniff and touch is is debatable. And shame on some of the women here excusing this as boys being boys or it’s not as bad as Trump.”
“I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable,” she added. “We need to hold our men to the same standards we hold all men.”
2. Lappos Wants Biden to Step Aside
Lappos, who is now a freelancer who worked with nonprofits, told The Courant that the incident happened at a $1,000-per-plate luncheon on October 5, 2009. The fundraiser took place at the home of affordable housing developer Ron Moelis. Himes was not in attendance but future Governor Dannel Malloy and future Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal were all in attendance.
The incident took place inside the home, where reporters were not allowed, Lappos told the outlet. Lappos said she posed for photos with Biden before he “moved toward her” while she was in the kitchen with several other volunteers.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told The Courant. “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.”
“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” she explained. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
“If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” she added. “The same goes for the other men who have thrown their hat in the ring. Women are 52 percent of the population. We are not a minority, we are the majority. It is time we are represented as such. After 45 male presidents it is time we elect a woman.”
3. Lappos’ Allegations Come After Lucy Flores Made Similar Claims About Biden
Lappos’ allegation came in response to an essay by former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who wrote at The Cut that Biden inappropriately touched her while she was running for lieutenant governor.
Flores wrote that she was “grateful” that Biden came to Nevada to campaign for her but said the vice president made her uncomfortable when he approached her.
Via The Cut:
As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”
I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f*ck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
By then, as a young Latina in politics, I had gotten used to feeling like an outsider in rooms dominated by white men. But I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
4. Biden Denied Touching Anyone Inappropriately
Biden denied ever touching anyone inappropriately in a statement in response to Flores’ comments.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately,” Biden said. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”
“I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women,” the statement read. “I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve. I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.”
5. Biden Spokesman Claims He is Being ‘Smeared’ With Fake Allegations
Biden spokesman Bill Russo cited an essay by Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter who wrote that an image purporting to show Biden inappropriately touching her was taken out of context, to claim that Biden was the victim of “smears and forgeries.”
“One such instance involved Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the other Senator Chris Coons’ daughter. Each was ostensibly captured by a photo that some have interpreted in a way that is reflected consistently, and without scrutiny, in the reporting. Ms. Flores herself has cited the Carter photo as an example of the behavior she experienced,” Russo said in a statement. “Here’s the problem: in neither case is the often repeated and recirculated interpretation true. Both Stephanie Carter and Senator Coons have now felt compelled to speak out to put these ugly urban legends to rest.”
“The familiar characterizations of these two photos that have been uncritically perpetuated, turn out to be very false,” he said. “These smears and forgeries have existed in the dark recesses of the Internet for a while. And to this day, right wing trolls and others continue to exploit them for their own gain.”