A group of women identified in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign ad as sexual assault victims are in “search for a lawyer” after they say her political agenda has “downright ruined” their lives.
The North Dakota Democrat was in full damage control Tuesday, apologizing profusely after a campaign ad printed – without permission – the names of women who were allegedly survivors of sexual assault. The major blunder caused some women to come forward to clarify they neither supported Heitkamp nor gave permission for their names to be used.
Some of the women revealed they were not even survivors of “domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape,” as noted in the ad which appeared as an open letter slamming Rep. Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp’s Republican opponent.
The campaign printed names of “victims” without explicitly getting their signed permission. Many of the women say they never experienced assault.
This is campaign 101 and MAJOR legal mistake. Using someone’s name or likeness in a paid ad is grounds for a lawsuit.
— Adrienne (@AdrienneRoyer) October 16, 2018
A statement provided to CNN by three of the women wrongly identified in the ad, Shylah Forde, Megan Stoltz and Alexandria Delzer, reportedly was signed by over a dozen women who were outed in Heitkamp’s list without permission.
“Heidi Heitkamp’s political agenda has interfered with, or downright ruined, our lives,” the statement read. “Survivors of assault who had taken care to avoid the subject were suddenly bombarded by questions asking them to explain to their loved ones why their name appeared on this list. Women who have never been assaulted spent the day reassuring loved ones of their safety.”
Their “privacy was violated on this day,” the group of women added, saying they have begun to “search for a lawyer who will take our case.”
As well they should. And they’ll win. https://t.co/u9OPFwTU8Y
— DanRiehl (@DanRiehl) October 17, 2018
“I don’t even support Heidi Heitkamp and I am not a domestic abuse survivor,” Kady Miller, one of the over 120 names at the bottom of the ad, wrote on Facebook.
“What’s done is done and I don’t think she can even get out of this one or fix it in any way,” she told CNN Tuesday. “Our names have already been published in multiple newspapers.”
— ❌💖🙏newhorizons777❤🙏 (@newhorizon7771) October 17, 2018
Lexi Zhorela was also named in the list without her consent and told CNN that she and “many other women on this list” were “very publicly humiliated on more than one level.”
While she had received a call from Heitkamp’s campaign and awaited a call from the senator directly, Zhorela thinks it is not enough to erase the damage.
“That doesn’t really do justice to the hurt this has caused not just me but many women that were wrongfully put in this situation,” she said, adding that it has affected her previous plan to back Heitkamp.
“That has changed,” she said.
“I’m not even a survivor and my name was included in the ad,” another woman named on the list but who wished to remain anonymous told CNN. “I had family and friends calling me all concerned. It was humiliating.”
Heitkamp vowed there would be “consequences” as she and her team work to find who was behind the unauthorized release of the names. Meanwhile she has been desperately trying to put out the fire in a re-election bid that was already an uphill climb. Cramer, her Republican opponent, recently declared that Heitkamp’s vote against confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was the “greatest political gift” as he saw a double digit-lead in polls following her decision.
Heitkamp told WZFG that she feels “horrible and mad and angry and furious and ready to tell someone ‘what were you thinking,’ why is this happening, how could you have been this irresponsible.”
“I have gone through all of that exactly how you set it out, ‘what if this was my daughter, what is this was my son, how would I react to this?'” she said, according to CNN. “I don’t think anyone is perfect in the world and sometimes when you are on a big stage you can make big mistakes, and I think our campaign made a big mistake and we need to own it and we need to fix it.”
Many agreed, however, that Heitkamp may be “finished” politically no matter how much she apologizes.
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) October 17, 2018
Gigantic own goal by Heitkamp. This seat is gone, and with it any reasonable chance of Dems taking the Senate
— Gregg Reis (@ReisGregg) October 17, 2018
— Derek Leo (@derekmke) October 17, 2018
Holy shit, she’s finished. Not just this election but in politics
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) October 17, 2018
Hard to overstate just how big of a campaign management mistake this is, never mind the political, legal and human implications. => https://t.co/0ECuOqswbi
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) October 17, 2018
I wonder if she can look herself in the mirror now.
— MATTMcAllister (@Catfatmatty) October 17, 2018
— Blake Gober (@blakegober) October 17, 2018
It’s hard to think of a worse gaffe aside from like, murdering your opponent https://t.co/TwpJo4LUTa
— 🎃Spooky Name Here Justin Arnold👻 (@JustinOArnold) October 17, 2018
Creepy Porn Lawyer on line 1……..
— Secret Squirrel (@SecritSqrl) October 17, 2018
At this point how does @HeidiHeitkamp remain in this race?
— Michael McAdams (@M_McAdams) October 17, 2018
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