A former consultant for Republican U.S. Senate candidate August Wolf has filed a lawsuit alleging that the candidate, the campaign, and his campaign manager engaged in sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment.
The consultant, Samantha Menh, who joined the Wolf campaign in March after it had already been through at least two campaign teams, alleges in a civil lawsuit filed in Stamford Superior Court Wednesday that the candidate made sexually charged remarks and physically blocked her from leaving the office on her last day with the campaign.
Wolf, who failed to get enough delegate support at the Republican convention in May, is seeking to gather the signatures of more than 8,000 registered Republican voters in order to primary the party’s nominee, state Rep. Dan Carter of Bethel.
In an email, Wolf said he was “shocked and appalled by the outrageous claims made in this lawsuit. I did not and would never engage in this type of behavior and neither would anyone on the campaign.”
Wolf and his campaign are no strangers to internal conflict.
Wolf’s first campaign manager quit in the fall of 2015, leaving a team of former interns in charge of the campaign. Those interns, all in their 20s, departed the campaign in January alleging a hostile work environment, according to the lawsuit. Because of the “tumultuous history of the campaign, plaintiff sought and secured a promise she would receive at least $50,000 in compensation if she disrupted her work on behalf of other groups and candidates to work for Wolf and his campaign,” the lawsuit states.
However, after joining the campaign Menh immediately began noticing, according to the complaint, that the candidate “engaged in sexually improper and abusive behavior and that he was not abiding by federal and state laws regarding financial reporting and seeking signatures on his petition.”
In the lawsuit, Menh says when she first joined the campaign she asked Wolf what he did for fun and he responded, “I have sex!” According to the complaint, he also made inappropriate remarks like, “When I am in the U.S. Senate, someone should put a taser on my [penis] so I can stay awake.”
On Menh’s last day of work, May 18, Wolf, according to the complaint, barricaded her in the office and would not let her walk out of the room. Wolf is about 6-foot, 6-inches tall.
At that point, “Plaintiff then realized she could not work there any more under such hostile, illegal and physically intimidating circumstances,” the complaint states.
In his email to CTNewsJunkie today, Wolf said, “The allegations are completely baseless. They are an obvious attempt by a former contractor to extort money at a critical time in the campaign, which she did over the last 5 days. I’m not going to tolerate it. I am going to defend this vigorously.”
Wolf said Menh was a contractor who resigned.
“Mrs. Menh was struggling in her work due to poor organizational skills, reckless decision making, and unethical professional and personal behavior. We attempted to resolve these issues and keep her on the staff, yet she voluntarily tendered her resignation,” Wolf said. “We engaged Ms. Menh with great hopes; we are very sad to see it end this way.”
But it may be the allegations of illegal fundraising and improper signature collection that cause greater concerns for the campaign.
Aside from the hostile workplace allegations, Menh also alleges that the campaign engaged in fundraising improprieties. The campaign fund raises money in three different stages and the complaint alleges that Wolf overspent the funds set aside for the convention by $40,000. By law, candidates are allowed to receive $2,700 from individuals for each phase of the election, including the convention, primary, and general. The funds must remain separate. Menh claims in the lawsuit that Wolf contributed money to his campaign in order to cover up the use of funds from the primary account for the convention account.
Many of Wolf’s donors gave him more than $2,700 believing he would advance to the primary. By law, the remainder of those donations will have to be returned if he doesn’t get on the ballot.
At a press conference earlier this month, Wolf declined to talk about the amount of money he will have to reimburse donors if he doesn’t get on the primary ballot.
Menh told the campaign manager, Baylor Myers, who is also a named as defendant in the lawsuit, that she received a call from the vendor hired by the Wolf campaign to collect the more than 8,000 signatures he needs to get on the primary ballot. Menh said the vendor complained that two workers were collecting signatures without a witness. She was told not to involve herself with compliance issues, according to the complaint.
“The allegations concerning fundraising and signature collection are ridiculous,” Wolf said. “The campaign has followed the letter of the law in respect to fundraising and petitioning. Any claims to the contrary are untrue.”
The Wolf campaign has until June 7 to collect the 8,079 signatures he needs in order to get on the Republican primary ballot.