From NBC's Lisa Myers and Jim Popkin
Sen. Hillary Clinton has declined to return $170,000 in campaign contributions from individuals at a company accused of widespread sexual harassment, and whose CEO is a disbarred lawyer with a criminal record, federal campaign records show.
The federal government has accused the Illinois management consulting firm, International Profit Associates, or IPA, of a brazen pattern of sexual harassment including "sexual assaults," "degrading anti-female language" and "obscene suggestions."
In a 2001 lawsuit full of lurid details, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that 103 women employees at IPA were victimized for years. The civil case is ongoing, and IPA vigorously denies the allegations.
"This is by far, hands down, the worst case I've ever experienced," said Diane Smason, one of the EEOC lawyers handling the lawsuit. "Every woman there experienced sex harassment, they were part of a hostile work environment of sex harassment. And this occurred from the top down."
Sen. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, told NBC News in a statement that the senator decided to keep the funds because the lawsuit is "ongoing" and because none of the sexual harassment allegations has been proven in court.
"With regard to the pending harassment suit, as a general matter, the campaign assesses findings of fact in deciding whether to return contributions," Wolfson said.