The Alabama Republican Party will reportedly continue to support Roy Moore as allegations of sexual misconduct rock the Senate contest.
NBC News first reported that the state GOP would maintain its support for Moore, its Senate nominee and a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, after the steering committee met Wednesday night. It is too late to remove his name from the ballot. But the party does have the option of formally withdrawing Moore as its nominee for the seat vacated by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, meaning votes for him in the Dec. 12 special election would not be counted.
Asked about the Wednesday night steering committee meeting, Moore’s campaign chairman Bill Armistead responded via text, “Nothing happened.” Armistead was also the chairman of the state GOP from 2011 to 2015. He referred a question about whether that meant the party was still supporting Moore to the state GOP. At publication time, a spokeswoman for the party had not returned multiple requests for comment.
Last week, The Washington Post reported Moore had made inappropriate sexual or romantic advances toward four women — when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Another woman, Beverly Young Nelson, came forward Monday and accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Moore has denied that he engaged in sexual misconduct and called the reports “fake news.”
Watch: Who in Congress Is Pushing Roy Moore to Drop Senate Bid?
More women came forward on Wednesday. AL.com reported that another woman, Tina Johnson, accused Moore of groping her in 1991 when she was in his office about a child custody proceeding. She was 28 at the time and Moore was married to his wife Kayla.
Johnson said Moore grabbed her buttocks as she left.
Another woman, Kelly Harrison Thorp, said Moore asked her on a date when she was 17 years old and told her, “‘I go out with girls your age all the time.’”
The Washington Post published a story Wednesday night describing Moore’s behavior in the Gadsden, Alabama, mall, and his alleged advances on young women who worked and spent time there.
One woman, Gena Richardson, said Moore phoned her at school to ask her out, and she obliged. She described his kiss on a date as “forceful” and did not want to see him after that.
Moore is scheduled to face Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 election. With less than a month to go, a handful of county and congressional district GOP committees have expressed support for the former judge. Meanwhile, a chorus of national GOP leaders have called on Moore to step aside as the nominee and for Republicans to support a write-in candidate instead.
As the Alabama GOP steering committee meeting convened Wednesday evening, Moore’s campaign chairman, Armistead and Moore’s lawyer Phillip Jauregui faced reporters outside the state part headquarters in Birmingham.
Jauregui, who also ran Moore’s campaign for state Supreme Court chief justice in 2000, said he has known Moore for 20 years and has never seen him act inappropriately towards women.
He went on to specifically attempt to raise questions about Nelson’s accusations. Nelson said Moore attempted to undress her, and she was afraid she would be raped. Nelson also said Moore signed her high school yearbook with the signature, “Roy Moore D.A.” (Moore was an assistant district attorney at the time.)
Jauregui said that while Nelson said she had no contact with Moore after the alleged incident in the 1970s, Moore was assigned her case when she filed for divorce in the late 1990s.
He also tried to raise questions about the yearbook inscription.
“We demand that you immediately release the yearbook to a neutral custodian,” Jauregui said, so that their handwriting expert could examine the writing and determine whether Moore did sign it.
Nelson’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, released a statement saying Nelson was willing to testify under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary and Ethics committees. Allred said if either or both panels agree to hold hearings on the matter, she would release the original yearbook to be examined by experts.
Moore’s team continued its push Wednesday night against the allegations. The campaign sent out a list of 12 women, including his sister-in-law and cousin’s wife, who vouched for the former judge’s character.
Moore also wrote an open letter to conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity, who had called on Moore to provide evidence that the allegations were not true.
“I am suffering the same treatment other Republicans have had to endure,” he wrote.
“I adamantly deny the allegations of Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson, did not date underage girls, and have taken steps to begin a civil action for defamation,” Moore wrote. “Because of that, at the direction of counsel, I cannot comment further.”