Dec. 07--Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. was fired Wednesday by Morgan Stanley following accusations of misconduct.
Ford, formerly of Memphis, was terminated for "conduct inconsistent with our values and in violation of our policies," according to a statement from the Wall Street bank. Morgan Stanely spokeswoman Margaret Draper would not say why he was fired, although HuffPost reported the company had investigated claims of harassment and intimidation.
In Ford's version, he met the woman in a professional capacity for dinner and drinks, after which they shared a cab and parted ways. Later, he reached out about meeting again but was told he had acted unprofessionally and wanted more than a business relationship. He agreed to not contact her again and heard nothing until Tuesday, when he was told a reporter had contacted Morgan Stanley about allegations against him.
But in her version, as relayed by HuffPost, Ford harassed and intimidated her, "forcibly grabbed her one evening in Manhattan," leading her to seek help from a building security guard, and then pestered her in a series of emails afterward.
Ford denied the allegations in a statement Thursday and said he would bring legal action against the woman and his former employer -- presumably for defamation and wrongful termination.
In his statement, Ford described the woman's job, which USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee decided not to publish in line with its policy of not disclosing identifying information about alleged victims of misconduct.
"This simply did not happen," Ford stated. "I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life. Having drinks and dinner for work is part of my job, and all of my outreach to the [job description exempted] making these false allegations was professional and at the direction of my firm for business purposes. I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue. False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers. I will now be bringing legal action against the [job description exempted] who has made these false claims about me as well as Morgan Stanley for improper termination."
Ford didn't immediately return a text or phone call seeking comment, but released his statement via spokewoman Lexi Georgiadis of public relations firm Goldin Solutions.
Georgiadis, who didn't immediately respond to a request for an interview with Ford, also released the following statement from Ford's attorney John Singer of Singer Deutsch:
"Morgan Stanley has still not told Harold directly of his termination, and unlike every other circumstance I've been in the company has refused to provide me with a reason. This all demonstrates how this was a matter of convenience during a hyper-sensitive time and not based on real facts."
The allegations against Ford are the latest in a flood of complaints against male politicians, executives and actors, and were made public the same day Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation following accusations of harassment and misconduct.
Ford, 47, is part of the prominent Ford family of Memphis and is widely considered a rising star in Democratic politics with national political aspirations.
Ford succeeded his father, Harold Ford Sr., as the congressman for the heavily-Democratic Ninth Congressional District in 1996. Ford Jr., a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, represented the district from 1996 to 2007.
He ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Sen. Bill Frist -- a seat eventually won by Republican Sen. Bob Corker.
After leaving Congress, Ford has served in a couple of academic roles at Vanderbilt and New York University, and has appeared frequently as a guest and political expert on national television shows like MSNBC's Morning Joe.
Before joining Morgan Stanley in 2011, Ford worked for Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc.
Harold Ford Sr. said he was surprised by the news today and hadn't talked to his son.
"I'm just learning right now," he said before hanging up on a reporter.
Reach Ryan Poe at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ryanpoe.
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