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Karen Kraushaar sound familiar? Think Elian.

The name of the second woman to say publicly that she was harassed by GOP presidential contender Herman Cain may ring bells with Miami Herald readers. Karen Kraushaar was a spokeswoman for the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Elian Gonzalez custody battle in late 1999 and early 2000.

Kraushaar was one of the two woman who spoke to Politico for the Oct. 30 story detailing complaints by female employees who worked for Cain at the National Restaurant Association. She and another employee "had complained about Cain’s behavior to colleagues and senior officials at the NRA, and both women left the trade group with a cash settlement," Politico reported. Kraushaar's settlement was about $45,000, Politico reported.

According to several published reports, Kraushaar, 55, heads up communications for a bureau within the IRS. Although many news outlets were aware of her identity, they did not disclose it until the iPad-only publication The Daily revealed it Tuesday. Kraushaar told both Politico and the Washington Post that she would be willing to join together for a press conference with the other three women accusing Cain of harassment. Only one of the other women has so far come forward publicly.

"I am interested in a joint press conference for all the women where we would all be together with our attorneys and all of these allegations could be reviewed as a collective body of evidence,” Kraushaar told The Washington Post Tuesday.

Cain on Tuesday during his own press conference continued to deny the accusations, and said he had no memory of one of the women, Sharon Bialek, who said Monday that Cain made unwanted sexual advances toward her when he was in charge of the restaurant association in the late 1990s.

"Throughout my career I have had nothing but the utmost respect for any and all women, as well as those that have worked under my leadership and all of the different companies that I have worked," Cain said. "I can categorically say I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period."

The story has started to seriously threaten Cain's public support, say neutral GOP observers.
"He was already slipping before these stories came out. This will accelerate his decline," Republican pollster Whit Ayres told McClatchy.

As for Kraushaar, she was an "ideal employee," her former boss Maria Cardona said. Cardona, a CNN contributor, called Kraushaar's credibility "beyond reproach. She was the utmost professional, one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known … the consummate team player."

Here's a sample of her work in the Miami Herald in 2000 during the Elian Gonzalez custody fight. She's talking about INS Special Agent Betty A. Mills, who cradled the boy in her arms as they left his relatives' Little Havana home during the raid that led to his return to Cuba:

"Elian is very interactive with his adult caregiver. He was calm on the flight and he bonded with her immediately," Kraushaar said. "We determined very early on that she would be the appropriate person for this operation. She had all the pieces we were looking for. As a law enforcement officer she was wedded to a very scary situation and she performed admirably."

 

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