Former Dem politician accuses Biden of 'inappropriate' contact

Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for Nevada lieutenant governor, on Friday accused former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' MORE of inappropriate touching from when they were at a campaign rally in 2014.

Flores wrote in The Cut that while she stood next to the stage at the campaign event, Biden put his hands on her shoulders, leaned in to smell her hair and then kissed the back of her head.

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“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?' " she wrote. "I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified."

“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,” she wrote.

Flores said she "never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before."

"Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command — an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me," she added. "Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job."

A spokesman for Biden told The Hill on Friday that neither the former vice president nor his staff recalled the events described by Flores, but said Biden believes in her right to share her recollection.

"Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores’s candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event," Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden, said in an emailed statement.

"Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes," Russo added. "But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best."

Flores said she told some members of her staff about the incident after the rally, but ultimately decided to move on "with my life and my work."

However, she said her "anger" and "resentment" grew after what she described as pictures of Biden "getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls" started to surface, making her feel compelled to speak up.

"I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem," she wrote.

Flores, who lost the 2014 lieutenant governor race, now heads Latino advocacy group Luz Collective.

Biden, who is expected to announce a presidential run in the coming weeks, is facing scrutiny by some in his party over whether he is progressive enough to become the party's nominee in 2020.

The former vice president has also faced criticism over his handling of Anita Hill’s Senate hearing in the 1990s when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

This week, Biden expressed regret about not having done more for Hill during the hearing.

“A brave lawyer, a really notable woman, Anita Hill, a professor, showed the courage of a lifetime talking about her experience being harassed by Clarence Thomas,” Biden said during an event on Tuesday. “But she paid a terrible price. She was abused in the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked. I wish I could have done something."