Bowing to pressure from Malloy, other top Democrats, Abrams ends campaign

Seen here during last Monday's League of Women Voters debate, Marc Abrams has pulled the plug on his campaign following allegations of past abuse and harassment. — Ken Borsuk photo

Seen here during last Monday’s League of Women Voters debate, Marc Abrams has pulled the plug on his campaign following allegations of past abuse and harassment. — Ken Borsuk photo

Bowing to pressure from state Democrats after court documents related to a past charge of sexual harassment surfaced this week, Marc Abrams has ended his campaign for the 149th district in the state legislature.

Mr. Abrams pulled the plug on his campaign on Friday, a day after insisting he was going to stay in the race against longtime Republican incumbent State Rep. Livvy Floren. The decision represents a stunning turn of events for Mr. Abrams who had been flying high after what his campaign team had seen as a very successful debate Monday night against Ms. Floren fueling talk of an unlikely upset in the Republican-heavy district. However, late Wednesday reports began surfacing in the blog about past allegations of misconduct against Mr. Abrams and his brother Russell when they owned a New York hedge fund called Titan Capital Group, LLC.

Two employees of the firm Danielle Pecile and Cristina Culicea sued Mr. Abrams and his brother in 2010 claiming they had been subject to graphic sexual harassment, discrimination and intense verbal abuse, including physical threats, painting a picture in the allegations of being bullied in the workforce, particularly by Mr. Abrams. The complaints alleged that Mr. Abrams had harassed Ms. Pecile and attempted to force her into a romantic relationship.

However documents released on Thursday confirm that both claims were investigated with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and it was determined that violations had not occurred and that Ms. Pecile and Mr. Abrams had been in a consensual relationship that had ended badly. Those decisions were appealed, though, and the cases were still pending. Mr. Abrams had said publicly he felt they would soon be dismissed and he would be exonerated.

There had been strong pressure from state Democrats for him to withdraw from the race including from Gov. Dannel Malloy and State Rep. Brendan Sharkey, speaker of the state house of representatives. There was an emergency meeting Friday morning with town Democratic officials and Mr. Abrams and while no decision was made immediately, the campaign was ended a few hours later. A tipping point may well have been an email released on the blog allegedly showing Mr. Abrams losing his temper in a conversation with an architect. That was independent of these allegations but fit what local Republicans had been calling a pattern of behavior from the candidate.

On Friday Mr. Abrams released a statement saying, “No sooner than my campaign began to catch people’s attention did my opponents’ change the conversation to one that is beneath our community. As to the allegations I will not dignify them other than to say that I have been exonerated by the EEOC and the charges dismissed in federal court. There do remain some claims in the State Court which will also result in my exoneration. While we always knew this was going to be an uphill battle, we never foresaw this level of negative attack possible in our community.”

He added, “I was ready before and ready now to win this election based on the merits. But my first priority is to my family and although they understood these false allegations may be brought up, we never fathomed the level of viciousness. I cannot in good conscience be a part of my family being subjected to this onslaught, and I am therefore withdrawing from the race. To all of you that have reached out in support, and I was awed by the number; I want to remind you that I’ve been working hard since my father abandoned me in my teens; earned a great education and rose to build successful innovative businesses; so when I say look forward to returning to politics when it is the right thing for my family, I mean it.”

In a statement released Thursday, Mr. Abrams said that the allegations had been dismissed and were without merit. He claimed that the issue had been drummed up again now as a political dirty trick. Mr. Abrams did not directly accuse Ms. Floren’s campaign of involvement and several prominent Democrats told the Post this week that they did not believe she was involved, pointing the fingers instead at state Republicans focusing on the governor’s race.

“Recent reports about a frivolous lawsuit directed at me and my family represent the lowest point that I can remember in local politics,” Mr. Abrams said in the statement. “After a disastrous presentation at the debate, supporters of my opponent have brazenly resurrected past Page 6 articles relating to litigation that the Federal Government through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted an extensive 9 month investigation and found to have no basis. This is the kind of dirty trick usually reserved for career politicians desperate to hold on to their seat and afraid to discuss their voting records and inconsistent positions.”

He added, “The facts are that me and my family were targeted by unscrupulous persons wishing to extract large sums of money so they generated a bogus claim and offered to settle to “spare our embarrassment” for $2.5 million. It highlights the fact that there are bad players out there that exploit our legal system and responsible tort reform is desperately needed.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker told the Post on Friday that he had encouraged Mr. Abrams to stay in the race but that he had done what he felt was best for his family and for the Democratic Party as it faces a tough gubernatorial race that could come down to a very narrow margin between Mr. Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley.

“I’m always looking out for the candidates the party,” Mr. Farricker said when asked if he was disappointed in Mr. Abrams’ decision. “Marc felt this was the best decision for everyone. He’s disappointed that the truth in this matter was not heard and he’s doing what he thinks is in the best interests of his family and the party and I support him on that.”

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