Sen. Feinstein Refers Kavanaugh Allegation to Feds

Groups trying to block the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court were looking for help from what numerous media outlets are characterizing as an anonymous allegation of sexual misconduct leveled against the nominee.

"I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement Thursday (Sept. 13). She provided not information about the letter of its contents. "That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision," the statement said. "I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

Feinstein is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vetted Kavanaugh's nomination.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the committee, has scheduled a Sept. 20 committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, a vote Feinstein and other committee Democrats attempted to delay.

News reports have identified the letter as a sexual misconduct allegation dating from high school.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegation.

Groups opposed to the nomination were quick to weigh in.

Shaunna Thomas, executive director and co-founder of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s group, issued the following statement, calling on Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination for the Supreme Court:

“The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are serious, troubling, and totally disqualifying," said Shaunna Thomas, executive director of UltraViolet, a group that fights sexism in the workplace. "He should withdraw his nomination immediately. Violence against women should have no place in our society and it certainly should have no place on the highest court in the nation.”

"We already have an accused sexual predator in the White House and we don't need yet another on the Supreme Court," said CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess. "Senate Republicans must not rush forward with Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation while new information continues to be revealed about his past sexual misconduct," Hess said.

CREDO Mobile is a mobile phone services company that generates donations for progressive causes, one of which is to oppose the nomination of the conservative jurist to the High Court.

Supporters of Kavanaugh were branding the referral of the letters as a last-ditch smear attempt to try and derail a nomination that appears headed for approval.

The Republican-controlled Judiciary committee Friday (Sept. 14) released a letter to Grassley and Feinstein from 65 women who said they had known Kavanaugh in high school and that "[f]or the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect," they wrote, adding: "We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.