Kirsten Gillibrand gains support of Kirsten Anderson

Kirsten Gillibrand gains support of Kirsten Anderson

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Kirsten Anderson, a former communications director for the Iowa Senate Republican caucus, reacts to the verdict in her sexual harassment lawsuit against the State of Iowa after she was awarded $2.2 million by a Polk County jury.

During one of her first trips to Iowa, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sat down and ate lunch with Kirsten Anderson, a former Iowa Senate Republican staffer who made national headlines after filing a sex harassment lawsuit against her work.

Immediately, the two Kirstens hit it off.

“I was inspired by her and her bravery and extraordinary advocacy work,” Gillibrand said in an exclusive interview with the Register. “I think we appreciated each other for standing up in what we believe.” 

Now, the two women will speak together on Wednesday in Des Moines after Gillibrand, known as the #MeToo presidential candidate, gained Anderson’s support.

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Former Iowa Senate GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson poses for a photo on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Des Moines. Anderson recently won a sexual harassment lawsuit against the State of Iowa. (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

The endorsement marks Gillibrand’s second one in Iowa — the first was from Kyla Paterson, a Jewish transgender woman who serves chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Stonewall Caucus, according to Buzzfeed.

Gillibrand’s latest endorsement comes from a victim of one of the state’s most high profile sexual harassment cases in recent years. Not only that, but Anderson formerly worked for Republicans and Gillibrand is a lifelong Democrat.

In 2013, Anderson was fired just seven hours after handing in a memo detailing her concerns about a toxic work environment working as the communications director for Iowa Senate Republicans.

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Former Iowa Senate communications director Kirsten Anderson speaks to the crowd outside Iowa State Sen. Majority Leader Bill Dix’s home during a protest Saturday in Shell Rock. (Photo: Matthew Putney, Waterloo Courier / Special to the Register)

A jury sat through a weeklong trial where Anderson and former co-workers testified about a “locker room” environment where women endured, among other things, taunts and quips about their sex lives. An Iowa Senate government oversight analyst who was at the center of the lawsuit often teased women in the office about their sex lives and a called his co-workers “prudes” if they didn’t respond to his taunts.

In one incident, Anderson said he showed her a nude picture of Kim Kardashian on his computer.

The lawsuit resulted in lawmakers reworking and refreshing their policies. 

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At their lunch, Gillibrand said she and Anderson spoke about their advocacy work. For Gillibrand, that was her work in Congress in creating more accountability with sexual assaults on college campuses, in the military and at the workplace. Since Anderson won $1.75 million from her lawsuit, she’s worked as an advocate to end workplace sexual harassment through education.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., takes a photo with Vanny Hlawn, 15, of Urbandale and Jen Statler of Ankney after a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., takes a photo with Brenda Kole after a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a town hall in Des Moines Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

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Gillibrand said the duo will resonate deeply with Iowa voters. Anderson wasn’t afraid of backing down, even though she faced retaliation from her sexual harassment allegations. Gillibrand said that as president, she would pass bills that may be more controversial, such as her support of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Sen. Gillibrand takes on the tough fights that no one else will,” Anderson said in a statement. “Sen. Gillibrand is a leading voice on taking on sexual harassment, assault and discrimination and will never stop fighting on behalf of survivors. She sees the people behind the problems and works to make their lives better. I’m proud to endorse her and share her brave wins message with Iowans.”

Gillibrand and Anderson will speak at HOQ in downtown Des Moines on Wednesday between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. It will coincide with Gillibrand’s three-day trip on the state between April 17-19, including stops in southwest Iowa, Ames and Indianola.

For updates on the latest news from the Iowa caucus trail, sign up for our politics newsletter.

Read or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2019/04/15/kirsten-gillibrand-gets-endorsement-of-kirsten-anderson-me-too-sexual-harassment-des-moines/3438622002/

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