A poll that previously had Democrat Doug Jones leading the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama by 4 points now has Republican Roy Moore up by 5 as he continues to battle accusations that he engaged in sexual misconduct four decades ago.
Leigh Corfman, meanwhile, who has made one of the two most serious accusations, broke her silence Tuesday in a letter published Tuesday by Alabama’s AL.com demanding Moore stop calling her a liar.
The change in the JMC Analytics poll, which shows Moore ahead 48-43, demonstrates “partisan preferences have reasserted themselves” and that the “sexual misconduct allegations against Moore have not materially impacted the race,” the pollster said.
Two weeks before the Dec. 12 election, 29 percent of the Alabama voters surveyed said the allegations against Moore make them more likely to vote for him. The RealClearPolitics polling average also shows a reversal, with Moore now up 2 percent after indicating last week Jones had a narrow lead.
Moore lost a double-digit lead in the polls in the reliably Republican state after the Washington Post on Nov. 9 published the accusations of Corfman – who claims Moore took her to his house and touched her sexually when she was 14 and he was 32 – and three other women who say Moore dated them when they were teens. Since then, five other women have come forward, including Beverly Young Nelson, who claims Moore sexually assaulted her, and Tina Johnson, who accuses the Republican candidate of groping her in his law office when she was a teen.
Corfman explained in her letter she decided to speak up again after Moore’s remarks at a rally Monday night, demanding he stop attacking her character and end his “smears and false denials.”
“The initial barrage of attacks against me voiced by your campaign spokespersons and others seemed petty so I did not respond,” the letter states.
“But when you personally denounced me last night and called me slanderous names, I decided that I am done being silent. What you did to me when I was 14-years old should be revolting to every person of good morals. But now you are attacking my honesty and integrity. Where does your immorality end?
“I demand that you stop calling me a liar and attacking my character. Your smears and false denials, and those of others who repeat and embellish them, are defamatory and damaging to me and my family,” Corfman writes.
“I am telling the truth, and you should have the decency to admit it and apologize.”
Meanwhile, Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks defended Moore in a radio interview Wednesday, questioning Corfman’s claims, and asserting accuser Nelson is lying and that the yearbook inscription she presented as evidence is a forgery.
Also, a retired Marine colonel and former aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has jumped into the race as a write-in candidate, describing himself as a centrist.
Former Sen. Barbara Boxer has predicted that if elected, Moore would eventually be expelled from the Senate.
“If they send a child molester into the United States Senate, the Ethics Committee will conduct an investigation that will leave no stone unturned,” she said. “They will reveal other issues and Roy Moore will be expelled, and he’ll be lucky if he doesn’t have criminal charges filed after that’s over.”
Two prominent Democrats are facing sexual-misconduct allegations of their own, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who’s been accused of harassing staffers, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., accused of groping women.
Breitbart News reported Wednesday it obtained copies of court documents that indicate a possible motive for Johnson’s accusation that Moore groped her in 1991 when she was in his law office regarding a contentious battle for the custody of her son.
Moore represented Johnson’s mother, who ultimately was awarded custody of the 12-year-old son. Johnson described her daughter as an unfit, absent and unstable mother with a “violent nature,” noting she “has been treated by a psychiatrist when she was approximately 15 years of age.”
A One News America report questioned the motive of retired Alabama police officer Faye Gray, who claims she was ordered to keep an eye on Moore at sporting events and at the Gadsden Mall because he was known to make unwanted advances on teen girls. OAN said two of Gray’s sons were arrested for drug distribution, and Moore prosecuted a case in 1981 in which Gray’s brother, Jimmy Wright, was arrested for distributing controlled substances. OAN’s report also found Moore ruled, in an alimony case, against convicted drug dealer Richard Hagedorn, who OAN said is the brother of longtime Washington Post editor David Hagedorn.
‘Judge for yourself’
In her letter, Corfman says she gave a Nov. 20 interview to NBC’s “Today” show “so that people could judge for themselves whether I was telling the truth.”
Leigh Corfman when she was about 14
The Post interviewed more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982, when he served as an assistant district attorney for Etowah County. Moore previously attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in Vietnam, graduated from law school and worked briefly as a lawyer in private practice.
At the rally Monday in Henager, Alabama, Moore’s first public appearance since Nov. 16, the candidate again declared the accusations he made unwanted romantic or sexual advances on teenage girls almost 40 years ago are “completely false,” AL.com reported.
“I don’t know any of (the women),” he said.
Moore told supporters at the rally that the accusations are part of a scheme by Democrats to draw attention from the issues.
“Why are they doing this? I’m going to tell you why they are doing this,” he said. “They are trying to hide the true issues which affect the people of this country and this state that they want resolved.”
Moore said it’s “no different than when the Washington Post brought out the Russia investigation at a time when President Trump is trying to get his agenda passed.”
‘Clearly a liar’
Brooks told “The Dale Jackson Show” on WVNN radio in Athens, Alabama, that Nelson is “clearly a liar,” contending the yearbook inscription allegedly signed by Moore is fraudulent, CNN reported.
Moore attorney Philip L. Jauregui has demanded that Nelson and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, hand over the yearbook to be examined by a third party. Allred said Tuesday she and her client will comply only if the Senate holds a hearing in which Moore testifies.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.
Brooks insisted the accusations against Moore would not lead to a jury conviction in a court.
“What you have is the mainstream left-wing socialist Democrat news media trying to distort the evidence to cause people to reach the conclusion that Roy Moore engaged in unlawful conduct with a minor and my analysis of the evidence is that is not the case,” he said.
“Most importantly, the media likes to say ‘well, there are nine complainers.’ Seven of them aren’t complainers. In fact, I would be calling seven of those ladies as witnesses on behalf of Roy Moore on the issue of whether he is engaged in any kind of unlawful conduct.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have called for Moore to withdraw from the race. President Trump, last week, emphasizing Moore denies the allegations, said the Senate doesn’t need another liberal Democrat like Jones.
Brooks argued that Corfman’s accusation is undermined by the stories of the women who say Moore dated them as teens.
“So, now you’re down to one witness who said that Roy Moore engaged in nonconsensual sexual contact, OK?” he said. “Well, that one witness’ testimony is in direct and stark contrast with that of the other seven ladies, who said that he acted like an officer and a gentleman. And you look at the preponderance of the evidence and then you add Roy Moore’s denial and you add his long deeply held Christian beliefs and I just don’t think there’s any way in the world that a jury would agree with the assertions of the Washington Post and others that are trying to make us believe in the state of Alabama that we would be electing a pedophile.”
Marine Corp veteran Lee Busby announced on Monday he will challenge Moore and Jones, the Washington Post reported.
Busby argued the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore created an opening for an establishment, centrist candidate.
“I think you can flip this thing. If this were a military operation, the left flank and the right flank are heavily guarded. I think that gives you an opportunity to run straight up the middle,” he said.
Busby admitted attending a fundraiser for Jones, but he denies ever donating to the Democratic candidate.
He said Jones also is unqualified for the Senate, citing the Democrat’s support for abortion.
The Hill reported abortion has emerged as a “firewall” issue for Moore, who is framing support for Jones as a blow to the pro-life movement.
“Nothing is more precious in the sight of most people than the life of the child, so I can see why people in Alabama would be enraged knowing that Doug Jones is willing to take the life of a child,” Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead told the Hill.
“Alabamians are pro-life and as they find out how extremely liberal Doug Jones is on this and other issues like transgender bathrooms, they are going to flee from him. … Voters need to be educated on the candidates and the issues regardless of what they are regardless of what other allegations are out there,” he said.
Breitbart News reported former White House chief strategist and current Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon continues to support Moore.
Bannon has been planning a rally with Moore’s campaign for Dec. 5 in Fairhope, Alabama.
A veteran who served with Moore in Vietnam, wrote a column on Moore’s behalf, saying he knew him “to be an altogether honorable, decent, respectable, and patriotic commander and soldier.”
Bill Staehle of Asbury Park, New Jersey, who said he’s been an attorney for 42 years, recalled an incident in Vietnam in which he and Moore had been invited by a colleague to go out for drinks. When Moore discovered that the colleague had taken them to a brothel, Moore insisted that they leave immediately.
“That evening, if I didn’t know it before, I knew then that with Roy Moore I was in the company of a man of great self-control, discipline, honor, and integrity. While there were other actions by Roy that reinforced my belief in him, that was the most telling,” Staehle said.
“I reject what are obvious, politically motivated allegations against Roy of inappropriate dating behavior. What I saw, felt and knew about him in Vietnam stands in stark contrast to those allegations,” he continued.
“I sincerely doubt that Roy’s character had changed fundamentally and dramatically in a few short years later.”