Retired businesswoman Elaine Loesch calls the actions of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and convicted rapist Bill Cosby “horrendous,” and she credits the #MeToo movement for bringing them to light.
But Loesch, a Republican, said #MeToo has gone off the rails with the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Loesch said she has not heard of any evidence that corroborates Christine Blasey Ford’s account of a drunken assault by Kavanaugh at an early ’80s high school gathering.
“I think she is fabricating the whole thing,” said Loesch after weighing Ford’s testimony last week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Loesch, 72, is part of a chorus of Republican men and women in Minnesota who continue to embrace Kavanaugh’s nomination to the nation’s highest court, despite the allegations that have sparked an epic showdown and an FBI investigation. Many say they’re eager for another justice who brings more conservative ideals to the court, and they view Ford’s allegations as a partisan attack.
“He’s an excellent candidate,” said Loesch, a Rosemount resident who is a member of the Minnesota Federation of Republican Women but doesn’t speak for the group. “They are out to destroy him. That’s what is so sad. They are willing to sacrifice a man’s family and reputation and career.”
The showdown is also energizing #MeToo activists who remain firmly against Kavanaugh’s nomination, particularly those scarred by their own sexual assault. The two sides are sending a torrent of e-mails, letters and calls to senators who are weighing his lifelong appointment to the bench.
Attorney Andy Brehm was initially pleased to hear that Kavanaugh was President Donald Trump’s pick, calling him an “excellent jurist” with a “phenomenal reputation in terms of his character as well as his jurisprudence.”
When Ford’s allegations surfaced, Brehm said he supported an investigation because “any allegation of this nature should be taken seriously.”
Brehm, who worked as a spokesman for former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, followed last week’s Senate judiciary hearing and described it as difficult to watch.
“I thought she was very compelling. I cannot imagine anyone would want to subject themselves to that. I thought it was a very brave thing to do,” said Brehm, 38, of St. Paul. “He was passionate and that’s understandable. He was accused of things he says he didn’t do. Who would be tepid in that defense?”
But he is “deeply troubled by Senate Democrats’ disinterest in due process and disinterest in evidence and facts,” saying they have turned it into a political issue.
Brehm said he’s keeping an open mind and will listen closely to the FBI’s findings but said that absent further evidence, he still believes Kavanaugh should be confirmed.
“I am grateful that I live in a country where we take sexual assault very seriously,” Brehm said. “I am also grateful we live in a country where we take the rule of law seriously.”
Denise Peterson, a resort owner who lives in Park Rapids, said she questions the timing and manner of Ford’s disclosure.
“If you really wanted an investigation done, you need to go to law enforcement, not hand it to a member of the U.S. Senate,” said Peterson, 46, who describes herself as conservative with a few liberal tendencies. “And you don’t wait until someone’s nomination to the Supreme Court to say, ‘Hey, I am going to call this guy out on his behavior.’ … Everything about the process to me is very stinky.”
Cathy Blaeser, 53, and Cailin Bjorlin, 25, discussed Kavanaugh’s nomination as they waited Tuesday for a meeting of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) to start at a church in Lakeville. They agree he would make a good Supreme Court justice. They said nothing they’ve heard so far from Ford or about Kavanaugh’s youthful partying gives them pause.
“Hasn’t anyone else been to college?” said Bjorlin, a client advocate at a pregnancy center who lives in New Prague. She pointed to Kavanaugh’s experience — graduating from Yale University, his time as a successful lawyer and judge.
“He had to have some self-control to get where he is,” she said.
Blaeser, a stay-at-home mom from Lakeville, said she worries about the culture of trial-by-social-media where partisan attacks replace evidence.
“In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty,” Blaeser said.
MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach said his group, which opposes abortion and assisted suicide, remains supportive of Kavanaugh.
“His time on the bench in D.C. has been very good. There have not been any problems. There have not been any hints of impropriety,” Fischbach said. “We have been supportive because he stated he wants to interpret the Constitution in its text and history. That’s an approach we take.”
No matter what happens with Kavanaugh, Loesch said she worries about the political divide that is seeping into everyday lives and sometimes even souring relationships among friends, neighbors and co-workers. She worries about her grown sons and other men facing false accusations.
And she worries this kind of scrutiny will keep good people from entering public service.
“If we are going to destroy people’s lives, how are we going to get good quality people to come forward?” she said.