Politics

Report: GOP Candidate for Dent’s Seat Faces Sexual Misconduct Allegation

Pennsylvania House hopeful Marty Nothstein says he is victim of anonymous smear campaign

The specific sexual misconduct allegation against Pennsylvania Republican House candidate Marty Nothstein is unclear, but stems from around 2000, when he won an Olympic gold medal in cycling. (MartyforPA.com/Screenshot)

Pennsylvania Republican congressional hopeful Marty Nothstein is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct stemming from nearly 20 years ago.

Nothstein, an Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist running in Pennsylvania’s new 7th District, has denied the allegation. 

The specific charge is unclear, but dates to around 2000, the year Nothstein won gold at the Sydney Olympics. He was put on unpaid leave from his job at a local cycling center, known as the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, in February, The (Allentown) Morning Cal reported

That was when the velodrome board learned that the U.S. Center for SafeSport was investigating Nothstein. SafeSport is a nonprofit authorized by Congress that focuses on preventing abuse in U.S. sports. A USA Cycling official received the complaint about Nothstein in late October, shortly after he launched his run for Congress.

Nothstein, a Lehigh County commissioner, has not yet been interviewed by SafeSport, despite his requests to be questioned so the investigation can come to an end, a campaign spokesman said. 

“The facts are on our side in this case,” spokesman Dennis Roddy said. “This is just an anonymous smear.”

Roddy said the tipster also called the local Upper Macungie Township police department shortly after Nothstein announced his campaign. The case was referred to the local district attorney’s office, which determined it without merit and closed the investigation, Roddy said. 

The campaign learned of the allegations from the two alleged female victims, who had been contacted by reporters from The Morning Call and declined to be interviewed, he said. Both women signed affidavits stating that the allegations were untrue, Roddy said. One of the women would have been 11 at the time of the alleged misconduct, he said. 

“They were both horrified,” Roddy said. “They would be dragged into this. They have families, jobs.”

After a three-month investigation, The Morning Call could not determine what the complaint to SafeSport alleges, whether the investigation is open, or if Nothstein has been cleared of wrongdoing, the newspaper reported.

The newspaper could not independently determine whether the law enforcement investigation dealt with the same allegation. Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin told The Morning Call that police determined the allegation to be “meritless” under Pennsylvania criminal law.

In a lengthy statement Friday afternoon, Nothstein denied the allegation, reiterating that the two women who were the alleged victims had denied that any misconduct occurred.

“I want to say to the voters of this district: these are false accusations, planted just days after I began my candidacy,” Nothstein said. “The presumed ‘victims’ themselves deny such a thing happened. It’s time to end this sort of politics. We should be talking about policy, not false rumors.”

Nothstein is set for a November face-off against former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild, who has been endorsed by EMILY’s List.

Wild said in a statement to Roll Call that she first learned of the investigation with the Morning Call report.

“These are serious allegations involving a partially taxpayer-funded organization where a suspension, investigation, and termination were made,” she said. “There are clearly questions to be answered, and I hope that the full facts of this incident are made available to the public in a timely and thorough manner.”

The race in Pennsylvania’s 7th District is expected to be hotly contested, especially after the state Supreme Court redrew the congressional lines earlier this year, ruling that the existing map represented an illegal partisan gerrymander.

The new 7th District is a successor to the old 15th District, previously represented by GOP Rep. Charlie Dent until he resigned in May. Under the new map, the seat shifted from one that President Donald Trump carried by 8 points in 2016 to one that would have backed Hillary Clinton by 1 point. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Tilts Democratic.

Watch: Money Isn’t Everything, Women Candidates Win Big, and Other Takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.