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Miami Beach candidate accused of sexual harassment loses campaign staff

@PatriciaMazzei @joeflech

After two women accused him of sexual harassment, Miami Beach candidate Rafael Velasquez lost his entire shoestring campaign staff late Monday.

They quit and said they could no longer stand by him, a week before Election Day.

Campaign Chairman Ansh Grover, Field Director Michael Thoeness and Treasurer Gustavo Perez resigned as of 5 p.m. Monday in a joint memo to Velasquez.

“My heart truly hurts,” Grover wrote. “We live in times where our sisters, mothers and families and friends are experiencing abuse at higher levels than ever before — yet fear holds back so many from being able to get justice. We will not stand by as stories continue to come in and victims continue to increase.”

Tuesday morning, Velasquez, a 44-year-old married father of two, offered a muddled apology to his accusers, telling the Miami Herald he was sorry for sending text messages he considered flirtatious. But he maintained he did not flash his penis to a sitting commissioner or grope a local publicist. 

“I want to apologize to anybody I might’ve offended in my communications,” he said. “I never meant to offend anyone. I certainly learned a lesson.”

More here.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald staff