Before he became Herman Cain’s chief spokesman and a senior foreign policy advisor to his campaign, Jeffrey “J.D.” Gordon publicly accused a female reporter of sexual harassment while serving as an officer in the Navy.
The story first came to light in 2009 when Gordon, then a high-level Navy spokesman, wrote a letter to the Miami Herald’s editor claiming that the paper’s military affairs reporter, Carol Rosenberg, had been sexually harassing him and other service members. Gordon wrote in the letter that this was “a formal sexual harassment complaint” and asked the paper for a “thorough investigation.”
“I don’t recall what it said,” Gordon told The Daily Caller when asked about the letter. “It was a couple years ago, but I just thought that the comments that she had been making had to stop, and so I talked to my office and sent the letter to her executive editor and they handled it in-house.”
According to Gordon, the issue was an “internal personnel matter” that he could not discuss in detail, but that it was ultimately resolved in a “satisfactory manner.” (RELATED: Debate wasn’t the first time Cain praised Alan Greenspan)
“I think there’s a certain standard of professionalism for journalists in the workplace that everybody expects,” Gordon continued. “And that wasn’t happening.”
In his letter to the Miami Herald, Gordon detailed what he called “multiple incidents of abusive and degrading comments of an explicitly sexual nature” he claimed to have been subjected to by Rosenberg. Gordon said that on one occasion Rosenberg asked if he had used “a red hot poker” in a sexual situation, and if he had enjoyed using it. On another occasion, claimed Gordon, Rosenberg implied he was homosexual who had taken his intern as a “companion.” He also claimed Rosenberg told both him and others that seeing him run without a shirt “was the most repulsive sight” she had ever seen, and “routinely” labeled government officials and other journalists as “‘bitches,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘Nazis,’ ‘Saddam Hussein-like,’ etc.”
“Her behavior has been so atrocious over the years,” Gordon, who dealt primarily with the Guantanamo Bay prison complex at the time of the letter, told journalist Howard Kurtz in 2009. “I’ve been abused worse than the detainees have been abused.”
When asked by TheDC about the accusations, Gordon declined to elaborate on what, exactly, Rosenberg had said, but did say her comments made both him and some of his fellow service members uncomfortable.
“It wasn’t just me this person had been saying a lot of these things too,” Gordon said. “I was trying to protect a lot of the soldiers, sailors and airmen from the comments that this individual was making.”
Fellow journalists defended Rosenberg after Gordon’s letter caused a minor media scandal in 2009. “I didn’t think there was any sort of sexual abuse, unless you’re telling me a naval officer, a sailor, isn’t used to hearing anatomical references in anger,” former CNN Pentagon reporter Jamie McIntyre told Kurtz in 2009. “It sounds like an overreaction on everybody’s part.” He added that Rosenberg “was always professional in her demeanor when I was around her.”
Rosenberg, who has written numerous articles about prison conditions at Guantanamo Bay, has not returned a request for comment. The Miami Herald said it “did not find corroboration” to support Gordon’s accusations and said it found “inconsistencies” in his version of events. Gordon’s commanding officer at the time, Col. David Lapan, told the paper “we have considered this a personnel matter, and it’s unfortunate that it has become a news story.” According to the Herald, dozens of journalists and military officials familiar with the situation, including generals, contacted the paper to express support for Rosenberg after Gordon’s letter.
Gordon retired from the military in early 2010 after 20 years of service. He joined the Cain campaign on September 1st and became its chief spokesman following the departure of Ellen Carmichael earlier this month. His full title is “Vice President, Communications; Senior Adviser, Foreign Policy & Security” for the Cain campaign.