Biden Their Time: The Truth Behind Lucy Flores' Accusation Against The Former Vice-President

Always vet your source.

This past Friday, a former Nevanda assemblywoman named Lucy Flores emerged onto the national scene after publishing an article on The Cut, an online off-shoot of New York Magazine. In the article, Flores described her interaction with then Vice-President Joe Biden at a November 1st, 2014 campaign event. At the time, Flores had given up her seat as an assemblywoman and was running for lieutenant governor and this high-profile campaign event included both Vice-President Biden as well as actress Eva Longoria. In the article, Flores described her interaction with Biden right before being called onstage:

I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” 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. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
Flores went on to say that the incident wasn't "violent or sexual" but that it was "demaning and disrespectful." Appearing today on CNN's This Morning, Flores went on say that she felt she had nobody to turn to and that was the reason for not coming forward with her story sooner. In response, Biden issued a statement this morning claiming he believed he didn't act inappropriately but that he would "listen respectfually" if anyone feels that he had acted in such a way. However, the story already was gaining traction with candidates Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders both being asked about it on Sunday morning talk shows and the right wing echo chamber having a field day with it including anyone from Breitbart to Kellyanne Conway jumping for joy at the potential scandal. At the intersection of Biden's previous interactions with women and the #MeToo movement, critics and opponents of the former Vice-President saw this as yet another example of how "Creepy Uncle Joe" was simply unfit to potentially be president.

Flores' allegation is serious and deserves to be investigated. However, to understand her allegation we also have to understand a little bit about Flores herself. After the alleged incident of November in 2014, Flores went on to lose her lieutanant governor's race three days later by 26 points. Five months later, Flores announced a congressional run for Nevada's 4th district. Facing a crowded Democratic primary with three other candidates, Flores sought to distinguish herself among the crowd by being the first candidate to endorse Bernie Sanders in January of 2016, less than a month before the Nevada caucus. Sanders would go on to lose the Nevada caucus but he remembered Flores' loyalty in April after he was called out by Rachel Maddow for refusing to fundraise for any other Democrats. Flores, along with Zephyr Teachout in New York and Pramila Jayapal in Washington would be the three candidates that Sanders would fundraise for, all of whom who just so happened to be strong Sanders supporters. Thanks to Sanders' support, Flores would raise over $600,000 but in the end, she would come in 2nd in the state's June primary, losing by 14 points.

But Flores' relationship with Bernie Sanders would not stop there. After being a Sanders surrogate, she would go on to join the board of Our Revolution, a PAC formed by former Sanders supporters. Her name resurfaced in January of 2019 when she was quoted in an NPR article regarding how Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign was rife with sexism and harrassment for female staff. Flores would say that she was "contemporaneously aware" of these allegations and she was quoted as saying that "there was essentially a cover-up" when issues were raised. However, Flores would then try to defend Sanders by claiming it was part of a larger cultural problem. She would say:

Frankly, I do think it's a little unfair...that the attention and all of the conversation is including Bernie's name, because this isn't just something that's limited to Bernie's campaign.

By attempting to state that sexism and misogyny on campaigns is no big deal, Flores is essentially minimizing the responsibility that Bernie Sanders had to create a safe environment for thousands of women nationwide. Yet, as we have seen over the past three days, Flores was deeply disturbed in 2014 when Joe Biden allegedly acted inappropriately toward her. Why then would Flores raise the alarm now rather than on the campaign trail in 2016 during a time when, as she said in her own words, there was "essentially a cover-up" of inappropriate behavior? 

There is more to this story than meets the eye. The fact that rumors are swirling about a potential Joe Biden presidential run starting in mid-April has given his political opponents worry, especially when he is leading in both nationwide and Iowa polls. Nowhere have we seen a campaign more threatened by competition than by Bernie Sanders. We've already seen Sanders' campaign try to diminish the successful rollout of Beto O'Rourke by stating how O'Rourke may have raised more money in his first 24 hours but he had fewer donors and we've seen Sanders' campaign manager, Nina Turner attack Julian Castro after Castro publicly blasted Sanders' view on reparations. Like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders cannot take criticism and like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders won't apologize when publicly called out. To have a former surrogate come out of the woodwork to share a story about an alleged incident that happened four-and-a-half years ago to take down the candidate who would be seen as the universal front-runner is something that we cannot and should not put past Bernie Sanders.

In the coming days and weeks, we will learn more about Lucy Flores' allegation. However, it bears mentioning that she has a horse in the race and that horse is Bernie Sanders. When someone on the board of a PAC supporting one presidential candidate claims inappropriate behavior by another presidential candidate, it cannot be denied that there is a massive conflict of interest. If Flores is sincere in her allegation, she needs to resign from Our Revolution's board and clear herself of any formal relationship with Bernie Sanders and his campaign. Until she does that and puts the truth ahead of her political aspirations, anything Lucy Flores says and does should be judged through the lens of her strong relationsthip and commitment to the Bernie Sanders campaign at a time when that very campaign has proven itself to be repeatedly unethical in its engagements toward other Democratic nominees. We deserve to hear Lucy Flores' story but we need to hear it free of her current allegiance to Bernie Sanders.

If she does not step down, it should tell us all we need to know about the validity of her allegation.

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