Sarah Driscoll was out for drinks with colleagues one night in early 2017 when a veteran political operative she labored with, Adam C. Sullivan, cornered her at a Washington bar.
They have been each administrators of the Hub Mission, a small Democratic advocacy group main a pitched combat towards Donald J. Trump’s new presidency. However fairly than speak politics that evening, Mr. Sullivan launched into an uninvited and graphic sexual rant, Ms. Driscoll recalled.
He mentioned “I wager you slept with the entire Democratic Celebration,” she mentioned, and spoke of his personal sexual prowess. He boasted about his penis dimension and described the methods he wish to sleep along with her, as Ms. Driscoll listened, speechless.
“I used to be type of in shock,” she recalled in an interview with The New York Occasions. “I simply was very numb and couldn’t consider what had simply occurred. And as soon as it set in additional, I felt actually gross.”
Ms. Driscoll didn’t lodge a proper sexual harassment grievance till mid-July that yr, when a lady she supervised got here to her recounting an analogous expertise. A human sources specialist investigated, discovered the claims credible and within the final days of July, the Hub Mission quietly fired Mr. Sullivan.
Lower than a yr after the incident, which has not been beforehand reported, Mr. Sullivan landed on his toes — operating the re-election marketing campaign of Kathy Hochul, then the lieutenant governor of New York. The 2 had labored collectively earlier than: In 2011, he helped Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, win a particular election for Congress, and he or she later really helpful him for the job on the Hub Mission.
It’s not clear what Mr. Sullivan instructed her about his time on the Hub Mission. However the sequence of occasions locations scrutiny on the judgment of Ms. Hochul, who, three years later, after she turned governor following her predecessor’s personal sexual harassment, vowed to “change a tradition of harassment and abuse, and guarantee protected, respectful workplaces.”
The ladies from the Hub Mission got here ahead after The New York Occasions revealed an article that documented Mr. Sullivan’s demeaning therapy of workers on Ms. Hochul’s 2022 marketing campaign and solid doubt on his stewardship of her political operation. Ms. Hochul lower ties with him on Sunday, when she mentioned that she was shocked and disillusioned to be taught of the conduct described by The Occasions.
The brand new allegations from the Hub Mission look like a part of a sample of troubling conduct as Mr. Sullivan, 43, bounced across the nation as a marketing campaign supervisor for outstanding Democrats.
4 individuals who labored with him — going again years earlier than his tenure on the Hub Mission, and as not too long ago as her race for governor final yr — described incidents to The Occasions by which he made undesirable sexualized remarks. They recalled conditions much like these Ms. Driscoll detailed, by which Mr. Sullivan made inappropriate feedback, usually whereas consuming, about feminine colleagues’ our bodies or romantic lives.
The marketing campaign aides spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they proceed to function in Ms. Hochul’s orbit and feared retaliation.
On the Hub Mission, Sarah English, the second girl who got here ahead after Ms. Driscoll, mentioned in an interview that Mr. Sullivan had requested crude, invasive questions on her intercourse life.
The Occasions interviewed a 3rd girl on the Hub Mission who mentioned Mr. Sullivan additionally demanded she reply questions on intercourse as he vividly described his personal exploits. However she mentioned she had not reported it on the time or been conscious that others had obtained related therapy till they started sharing experiences final week.
New Enterprise Fund, the umbrella group that homes the Hub Mission, confirmed the outlines of the ladies’s account in an announcement.
“New Enterprise Fund’s coverage is to expediently, totally and pretty examine claims of impropriety amongst its workers,” it wrote. “In strict adherence to the coverage, New Enterprise Fund investigated the allegations instantly, and subsequently terminated the worker.”
In response to a listing of detailed questions, Mr. Sullivan emailed a one-line assertion: “I apologize to anybody I made uncomfortable at any level,” he wrote.
After he left the Hub Mission, Mr. Sullivan had different current consulting shoppers, together with the Reform Alliance, however Ms. Hochul seems to be the one politician who labored with him. He helped her construct her new administration, managed a turbulent marketing campaign for a full time period in workplace, suggested her on multibillion-dollar finances priorities and served as her conduit to the state Democratic Celebration.
He has finished all of it, although, with an unusually low public profile: He by no means took a job in state authorities, had no formal marketing campaign title and was paid greater than $500,000, principally via a secretive association that stored his identify off marketing campaign finance data. He additionally labored from his residence in Colorado.
Requested to touch upon Wednesday, Ms. Hochul reiterated that she had not identified of the claims towards Mr. Sullivan.
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable beneath any circumstance, and these allegations are each surprising and deeply disappointing,” she mentioned in an announcement. “Nobody ought to need to tolerate this kind of conduct, and I condemn it.”
Mr. Sullivan joined the Hub Mission in 2016 as one of many group’s first workers after greater than a decade operating campaigns for Democrats like Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Based by the Democratic strategist Arkadi Gerney, the group was initially set as much as construct assist for liberal insurance policies in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton presidency. When Mr. Trump gained, the 18 or so workers there pivoted to turn out to be main organizers of the resistance to his agenda.
Ms. Driscoll, who had labored on President Barack Obama’s 2012 marketing campaign, started working on the Hub Mission as its digital director not lengthy after Mr. Sullivan began.
Ms. Driscoll and others mentioned that Mr. Sullivan created a poisonous work atmosphere, belittling and disrespecting ladies to the purpose that she actively sought to keep away from him till one evening in early 2017. Ms. Driscoll, 35, had joined her colleagues at a work-sponsored completely satisfied hour on the Blaguard, a bar in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, the place Mr. Sullivan started haranguing her about her intercourse life and his personal.
“I’ve all the time gotten rave opinions,” Ms. Driscoll recalled him saying that evening. “I understand how to pleasure a lady.”
Ms. Driscoll was in a position to pull herself away. She recalled going residence to inform her boyfriend, now her husband, concerning the encounter via tears, and he or she quickly instructed a good friend. However within the days earlier than the #MeToo motion, she anxious that Mr. Sullivan, who appeared to get alongside effectively with males within the workplace, would retaliate towards her and that he would finally face no penalties for his actions.
She mentioned she regretted not reporting the encounter sooner.
“I’ve all the time had this concern that he was nonetheless on the market, working in Democratic politics, making a ton of cash and, most significantly, persevering with to harass ladies,” Ms. Driscoll mentioned, explaining her determination to publicly describe her personal expertise. “And it’s all the time weighed on me.”
Ms. English, a graphic designer who labored beneath Ms. Driscoll, had her run-in with Mr. Sullivan a number of months later. He had invited her and some colleagues for celebratory drinks at Mission, one other bar close to the group’s Dupont Circle workplace, after a profitable presentation to funders, she mentioned.
Ms. English discovered herself alone on the bar with Mr. Sullivan, who had been consuming steadily and started asking her about her intercourse life. She mentioned he repeatedly known as her a “scorching woman” and demanded to know what number of occasions per week she had intercourse along with her accomplice. She demurred, however he persevered, saying she ought to go away her accomplice in the event that they weren’t having weekly intercourse.
“My response was anger that somebody ready of energy would communicate with me like that, particularly understanding that I’m a youthful, lower-level worker in comparison with him, particularly working for a progressive nonprofit group,” Ms. English, 35, mentioned in an interview.
She mentioned she didn’t report the incident to Ms. Driscoll till a number of weeks later, when she started to suspect that Mr. Sullivan was retaliating towards her within the workplace.
Andrea Purse, who was the director for communications on the Hub Mission, confirmed that Ms. Driscoll had instructed her on the time that she and a colleague had reported being sexually harassed by Mr. Sullivan.
Ms. Purse recalled that quickly after, Mr. Gerney instructed a small group of senior leaders that Mr. Sullivan had finished one thing inappropriate that he couldn’t talk about intimately and that he wouldn’t be returning to his place. Mr. Gerney, 48, declined to remark and referred inquiries to the New Enterprise Fund.
A 3rd girl whose work on the Hub Mission was overseen by Mr. Sullivan recounted an analogous expertise throughout an workplace completely satisfied hour at Mission. She mentioned she ended up alone on the bar with Mr. Sullivan, who started asking invasive questions on her intercourse life and speculating concerning the variety of sexual companions she had whereas boasting concerning the frequency with which he had intercourse.
The girl, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of she was anxious about harming her profession, mentioned she discovered a means out of the dialog and tried to neglect concerning the encounter.
Ms. Driscoll and Ms. English mentioned they weren’t requested to signal nondisclosure agreements on the time and have been pleased with how the complaints have been dealt with. Administration didn’t share the rationale for Mr. Sullivan’s departure broadly.
In an Aug. 1, 2017, electronic mail to colleagues saying goodbye, Mr. Sullivan wrote merely that he had left the Hub Mission “as you have got all heard.”
“I’ve loved working with all of you,” he wrote in a replica of the e-mail reviewed by The Occasions. “And need you all the most effective within the necessary work that lays forward.”
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