Cain chief of staff under fire

Conservative pundits and former Cain staffers are calling for the resignation of Herman Cain’s chief of staff, who they say has damaged the GOP candidate’s credibility.

The calls for Mark Block to resign come as Cain’s campaign deals with sexual harassment allegations that threaten to ruin his candidacy.


Block originally fingered a rival campaign for leaking the story (before walking that back) and made accusations against a reporter Tuesday night on cable television that proved to be false. Those moves come on top of accusations Block broke election laws in Wisconsin and reports he was arrested for drunken driving.

“Mark Block has to go,” prominent conservative blogger Ed Morrisey of Hot Air wrote Wednesday morning. “If he’s not gone by tomorrow, no one will take this campaign seriously again — nor should they.”

A former Cain staffer agreed. “Mark Block has no regard for basic ethics or accounting practices,” said the staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak frankly. When asked if Block was hurting Cain’s campaign and should be fired, that former staffer said, “yes.”

“He is no strategist,” the staffer said. “He is impulsive and obsessive.”

And former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a longtime Cain backer, said Wednesday afternoon that Block should "step aside" as the spokesperson for the campaign.

“We’re talking about damage control. And when something like this happens, which requires a really well-reasoned response, he’s not the guy," Tancredo told the conservative publication National Review. “The campaign has handled this poorly... It’s a reflection of a relatively naïve group of people. They have good intentions but they’re not seasoned. It’s not working out.”

The Cain campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s not the first report of staff troubles within the Cain campaign. A New York Times report in late October was filled with talk of hiring and staff problems, which led to problems in Cain's scheduling and fundraising.

But Cain is facing the biggest crisis of his campaign, and it doesn't seem to be going away. Two of the women who alleged they were sexually harassed by him have agreed to hold a joint news conference, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Joel Bennett, the attorney who represents accuser Karen Kraushaar, told the newspaper he was speaking with attorney Gloria Allred, who represents accuser Sharon Bialek, about the event but the details have not been worked out.

And that could lead to more comments from Block.

Block, who has run Cain’s campaign came since its start, became a recognizable face after a Web ad he made for Cain — featuring him taking a drag on a cigarette — went viral. He's been a constant media presence in the two weeks since reports Cain sexually harassed women during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association.

Cain's campaign has vehemently denied the allegations, but Block's defense of the candidate has resulted in several walk-backs.

The latest was on Tuesday, when Block went on Fox News to say that Kraushaar is related to a reporter at the publication that broke the story.

"At the press conference it was brought up that Karen Kraushaar had come out as one of the women, so we've come to find out that her son works at Politico, the organization that originally put this story out," Block told Sean Hannity.

When Hannity asked if he had confirmed those facts, Block said: "We've confirmed that he does indeed work at Politico and that's his mother, yes."

Block seemed to be referring to Josh Kraushaar, a former staffer at the newspaper, who now works at National Journal and is no relation to Karen Kraushaar.

“Mark Block doesn't have his facts straight,” Josh Kraushaar said in an email to The Hill. “I am not related in any way to Karen Kraushaar, and I haven't worked at Politico since June 2010.”

Cain spokesperson JD Gordon told the Daily Caller on Wednesday the campaign made a mistake in saying the Kraushaars were related but did not apologize for the mix-up.

“Based upon information available at the time of Mr. Block’s Tuesday night interview on Fox News, the campaign was led to believe that Mr. Josh Kraushaar, currently with the National Journal and a former employee of Politico, was the son of Karen Kraushaar,” he said. “We have since learned that is not the case.”


Asked if the Cain campaign checked with him to see if he was related to the accuser, Josh Kraushaar said they had not. “[It was] Fabricated completely,” he wrote. “No e-mails, no contacts.”

Josh Kraushaar also took to his Twitter account to criticize Block. “Mark Block must get his facts from Internet comment boards,” he tweeted Tuesday night. “For a presidential spokesman to go on TV and make up blatant falsehoods doesn't speak well for his boss, either.”

This follows unproven allegations from Block that the original story about the harassment accusations had come from rival Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

“Rick Perry needs to apologize to Herman Cain, his family, and America for this despicable action,” Block said on Fox News last week.

Perry and his campaign denied being behind the story with the Texas governor telling the conservative blog Red State: "We found out about these allegations at the same time I suppose everyone else did — read about them online and our campaign had absolutely nothing to do with it."

Block returned to Fox News the next day to say they accepted the Perry campaign's denial. "We want to move on with the campaign," he said.

Meanwhile, before the story about the sexual allegations broke, Block was reported to be under investigation for campaign finance issues.

The Associated Press reported at the end of October that Block has a troubled past that includes arrests for drunken driving and a suspension from campaigning in Wisconsin after accusations of breaking election rules.

In 1997, Block was accused of coordinating campaign activities between a state supreme court justice's reelection campaign and a special-interest group that promoted school vouchers, in violation of campaign laws. Four years later, Block agreed to a settlement that included a $15,000 fine and a three-year suspension from running campaigns in the state but did not require him to admit guilt. He denied any wrong doing to the AP.

Cain has stood by his campaign chief of staff in the past. He told Fox News right before the sexual allegations story broke that: "We have a saying in my campaign — let Herman be Herman. This is the attitude that I have when I do debates. This is the attitude I have when I do interviews: Let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is my chief of staff. And we also say, 'Let Mark be Mark.'"

 — Justin Sink and Ariel Katz contributed

— This story was last updated at 3:09 p.m.