Updated with a statement from Boxer (below) at 5:57 p.m.
As a freshman senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) allegedly laughed off her colleague Patty Murray’s (D-WA) story about being groped in an elevator by longtime South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond in 1993.
Sexism on Capitol Hill has been a heated topic of conversation since Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) raised the issue in an interview this week to promote her upcoming book “Off The Sidelines,” recalling how some colleagues called her “porky” or “chubby” in reference to her self-described struggle with weight. Some reporters then voiced their own experiences with male lawmakers’ inappropriate comments.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty argued in a piece published Friday that no one who spends time around Congress should be surprised that the kind of sexism Gillibrand described is still kicking in the Capitol. To illustrate, she revisited the 1993 incident where Thurmond was accused of groping Murray.
Thurmond didn’t recognize Murray as as a fellow lawmaker while the two shared an elevator and asked if she was married before grabbing her breast, according to journalist Clara Bingham’s 1997 book “Women On The Hill.”
Tumulty pointed out that when she reviewed Bingham’s book for the Los Angeles Times, the pre-publication copy stated that Murray related the incident to Boxer, who then laughed it off.
Once “Women On The Hill” was actually published, the text stated that Boxer encouraged Murray to go public with the story.
Murray told Bingham directly that she regarded the elevator episode as a “non-incident,” Tumulty noted.
Update: Boxer released the following statement to TPM.
“The headline and lede of your story is false and the opposite of what happened – and the record on this was corrected 17 years ago,” said Boxer spokesman Zachary Coile. “Senator Boxer urged Senator Murray to go public with these serious allegations.”