Mel Watt Accuser Goes Public, Releases Tapes
Simone Grimes, a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) employee, says she secretly recorded conversations with the agency’s chief and former NC Congressman Mel Watt. The recordings appear to bolster her harassment, retaliation, and equal-pay claims against Watt and the agency. In 2015, Grimes had been filling two jobs -- hers and one she'd been promoted to, but she never got the pay increase she'd been promised. That decision would have required sign-off from the Director -- 72-year-old Watt, and she says that’s when the inappropriate advances began. In one encounter, Watt asked about a tattoo on her ankle, saying, “If I kissed that one would it lead to more?" In a transcript dated April 2016, Watt arranged for the two to meet outside the office “because of perceptions.” The conversation took place on the drive from the FHFA to a downtown DC restaurant. “Well, you probably want to know what I wanted to talk to you about,” Watt said. “I mentioned to you there is an attraction here that I think needs to be explored. In my experience there are four types of attraction: emotional, spiritual, sexual or of friendship. So, the exercise here is to find out which one exists here.” Grimes tried to shut down the conversation. “If I gave you that impression in any way, that was not intentional,” she said. “My impression was that you wanted to discuss the work-related items I’ve been talking to [a superior] about. But, if that’s not the case, then I think I should take you back to FHFA. Because I don’t want any confusion here.” An investigator working for the U.S. Postal Service is handling the case. "The selective leaks related to this matter are obviously intended to embarrass or to lead to an unfounded or political conclusion,” Watt said. “However, I am confident that the investigation currently in progress will confirm that I have not done anything contrary to law. I will have no further comment while the investigation is in progress.” Watt's five-year term as head of the agency expires in January. More here.