Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has stayed silent regarding the names of the now-infamous congressmen — who, as she wrote in her new book — have harassed her while in office. On Monday, the New York Times reported that one of those men was the late Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
The Times writes that Inouye was the man who told her "Don't lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!" Senator Inouye was a long-serving, highly regarded World War II veteran who had a history of supporting women's issues, at least politically speaking. He died in 2012.
But as the Times points out, Inouye's personal life told a different story. During a 1992 reelection campaign, Inouye's opponent Senator Rick Reed ran an ad accusing the Inouye of raping and harassing his hairdresser. Inouye denied those claims, but a Times article from that same year entitled "Accusations Against Hawaii Senator Meet a Silence in His Seat of Power" outlines how few of his colleagues would speak on the matter – on both sides of the aisle, men and women alike. At that time, the Anita Hill hearings had just finished, and so the silence was considered surprising:
"It is quite remarkable," said Brian Nakamura, staff counsel to Lieut. Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano, a Democrat, as is the Governor, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the rest of the Congressional delegation and 69 of 76 state lawmakers. "Anybody would be hard-pressed to name another Federal officeholder who could stand up to the firestorm he stood up to. Senator Inouye is an institution."
After the ads ran and Inouye's hairdresser confirmed the story, according to the AP, Hawaiian Representative Anelle Amaral said that, "nine women had called her with stories of sexual harassment and abuse by Inouye, ranging from touching to sexual intercourse." Inouye was married to Margaret Shinobu Awamura from 1948 until her death in 2006.
Gillibrand would not confirm or deny the claims that Inouye was responsible for the "chubby" comment, but in her book, she wrote that the man in question was one of her "favorite older members of the Senate." When Inouye died, President Obama, Vice President Biden and former President Clinton spoke at his funeral. "I think it's fair to say that Danny Inouye was perhaps my earliest political inspiration," Obama said.
Images via AP