Sen. Patty Murray told Sen. Barbara Boxer nearly three years ago that Sen. Strom Thurmond tried to fondle her on a Capitol elevator, and Boxer urged her to make it public, Boxer’s spokesman said Thursday.
Thurmond, the 93-year-old South Carolina Republican just re-elected to his eighth term, denied the charge and Murray, D-Wash., doesn’t want to talk about it, her spokesman said Thursday.
“This is an incident that happened a long time ago,” Murray press secretary Rex Carney said from Seattle.
“Sen. Murray dealt with it immediately and handled it in a way she felt was appropriate and since then she has not talked about it and doesn’t intend to.”
Carney said Murray “knows what sexual harassment is and that was not sexual harassment. If she ever was a victim of sexual harassment, she would have done something about it.”
Thurmond said in a statement released by his office Thursday that he had not engaged in any inappropriate behavior. He indicated he was only helping Murray onto the elevator.
David Sandretti, Boxer’s communications director, said Murray related the incident to Boxer as it is described in an upcoming book.
The book, “Women On the Hill” by former Newsweek reporter Clara Bingham, says that when Murray got onto an elevator with an elevator operator and Thurmond in early 1994, Thurmond put his arm around Murray, tried to fondle her breast and said, “Are you married, little lady?” Sandretti said Murray told Boxer, D-Calif., about it “shortly after the encounter.”
The book also said Murray told her senior staff about the incident the next day and some staffers wanted her to go public but she decided against that.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter