Americans need to ask Congress tough questions about how misconduct claims are handled against its members after Tara Reade alleged that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her.
The presumed presidential nominee for the Democratic Party served as senator of Delaware for over thirty years and vice president for 8 years during the Obama administration.
Senate disclosures reveal that Reade started working in Biden’s office in December 1992 and left in August 1993. Reade stated that she made her complaint through official congressional channels in 1993. She alleged that for many years she has had trouble getting anyone to act on her behalf. Revelations about the handling of Biden’s Senate papers give some credence to her complaint of being ignored, silenced and forced out.
“I went to another senator’s office for help and met discreetly with the staffer I knew,” Reade wrote last year in an April 17 column for The Union. “At the time, I was volunteering for the 25th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial at the VIP tent and a staffer for Sen. Ted Kennedy tried to step in on my behalf. Then, I went to Senate personnel for help. No one helped me. I resigned or I would say, I was forced to resign. I was told to look for another job.”
She said after she complained, “My life was hell. This was about power and control. I couldn’t get a job on the Hill.”
Biden’s Senate personnel records were turned over to him after he left Congress, so if the complaint was filed, as Reade alleges, her claim of sexual assault would have been handed to the perpetrator to do as he pleased.
The former vice president reportedly dropped off 1,875 boxes of “photographs, documents, videotapes, and files” and 415 gigabytes of electronic records to the University of Delaware in 2012. There is no way to ascertain if the records are complete without an independent arbiter or official chain of custody.
Why doesn’t the Senate retain personnel records so that the public has more open access to information that relates to the treatment of employees by elected officials? Biden and The University of Delaware have been allowed to possess and maintain complete control of his supposedly public records and the board members have been keeping them on lockdown.
Biden claimed any complaint filed by Reade would be located at the Archives, not Delaware. “The National Archives is the only place there would be anything having to do with personnel records,” Biden told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday. He has refused to allow a search of his Senate records for Reade’s name.
The university said the papers would be open to scholarly investigation and to the public two years after Biden stepped down as vice president, but the records were still not disclosed at that time. The schedule was revised April 24, 2019, the day before Biden announced his presidential campaign.
“The papers would now remain sealed until December 31, 2019, or until two years after Biden retires from public life, whichever came later,” the university stated.
Biden is one of the most powerful politicians in Delaware. He has a very cozy relationship with university officials. His staffers have no trouble accessing his records, but the public has been willfully left in the dark even though he served for decades on taxpayers’ dime.
“The fact is, that there’s a lot of things that of speeches I’ve made, positions I’ve taken, interviews that I did overseas with people, all of those things relating to my job. And the idea that they would be made public and the fact while I was running for public office, they could be really taken out of context. The papers are position papers, they are documents that existed and that for example when I go, when I met with Putin or when I met with whomever. And all of that to be fodder in a campaign at this time,” Biden said Friday.
If this is a common practice, why would any woman want to bring a complaint against any senator? The university is a state institution and its job should be to regularly catalogue and manage the records, not play politics.