Morgan Stanley Fires Former Congressman
Morgan Stanley has fired former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. following an investigation of alleged misconduct, the Huffington Post reports. A woman who is not an employee of the wirehouse but was interviewed by its human resources department tells the web publication that Ford, then a managing director at the firm, allegedly harassed and "forcibly" grabbed her several years ago at a professional meeting in Manhattan.
Morgan Stanley had hired the five-term Democratic representative from Tennessee in 2011, describing his role to the New York Times [ at the time as senior client manager for “building business opportunities” and managing relationships with private clients, institutional investors, senior executives and corporate directors, according to the Huffington Post.
Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Ford had been working at Merrill Lynch since 2007, the year he left Congress, the web publication writes.
The woman, whose identity the web publication is keeping private, tells Huffington Post that the incident with Ford led her to ask for help from a building security guard. The former congressman allegedly continued contacting the woman until she emailed him asking him to stop contact in light of his conduct on the evening in question, she tells the web publication.
Ford wrote that he “meant no harm,” “didn’t mean to be inappropriate at all,” and that his “overtures” were “strictly professional,” according to an email seen by the Huffington Post. The web publication also spoke to two people whom the woman told about her meeting with Ford. One woman who spoke to Ford’s accuser on the night of the incident describes her as behaving “distraught, shocked, and frightened” and concerned about what would happen to her career.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirms to HuffPost that the wirehouse fired Ford “for conduct inconsistent with our values and in violation of our policies.” Ford’s employment lawyer John Singer of Singer Deutsch LLP tells the web publication that the wirehouse has yet to tell his client directly of his termination and refused to provide reasons for it.
“This all demonstrates how this was a matter of convenience during a hyper-sensitive time and not based on real facts,” Singer tells the Huffington Post.
Ford’s termination and allegations of sexual assault come at a time when dozens of high-profile men in Hollywood and other sectors of society, including politics, are resigning or getting fired following accusations from women of inappropriate behavior ranging from harassment to rape.
Ford denies his accuser’s allegations to the web publication, saying in a statement the incident “simply did not happen” and that he’s “never forcibly grabbed any woman or man.”
“I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue,” he says in the statement cited by the Huffington Post. “False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers. I will now be bringing legal action against the reporter who has made these false claims about me as well as Morgan Stanley for improper termination.”
Huffington Post freelance reporter Yashar Ali covered the story. Ali tweeted that he’s not the one being sued and that Ford meant to refer to his accuser, according to the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, MSNBC tells Politico that it will not be using Ford as a paid guest while it investigates the Huffington Post report.
Ford is a on-air political analyst for MSNBC and NBC and has frequently appeared on the “Morning Joe” program, according to the web publication.