Trump has hailed Herbster, who considers himself a born-again Christian, as a “tremendous supporter of America First.” Donald Trump Jr. accompanied Herbster on campaign stops in the state earlier this week. “You’ve seen how powerful good conservative leadership can be in the governor’s office across America,” said the former president’s son.
Herbster, owner and CEO of Conklin Company and a sometimes beauty pageant judge, has denied the allegations.
He’s currently a frontrunner in the race for the Nebraska governor’s seat, even though he has never held political office. He reportedly gave $1.3 million to Trump’s campaigns, and attended the Jan. 6, 2021 rally outside the Capitol with members of Trump’s inner circle.
Republican State Sen. Julie Slama confirmed to the Nebraska Examiner that Herbster “reached up her skirt without her consent and touched her inappropriately.
It happened in a crowded ballroom at the annual “Elephant Remembers” dinner put on by the Douglas County Republican Party, according to the newspaper. The incident was first reported by a witness.
That witness and two others said they saw Herbster grope another woman at the same event.
Six other women have also since reported similar assaults. All the incidents happened between 2017 and this year, according to the Examiner, which corroborated six of eight reports with witness accounts.
Omaha’s former mayor reportedly asked in response to the accusations that he wanted to put Slama on the witness stand and ask her what she was wearing when she was groped.
In a tweet Thursday, Herbster called the accusations “libelous fake news,” adding: “I’ve respected and empowered women to run my company, my farm, and now my campaign.”
All 13 female state senators in the Nebraska legislature, including five Republicans, issued a statement Thursday recognizing the “highly credible, corroborated allegations.”
“We commend the brave women who have stepped forward to tell the truth about what they endured at the hands of Charles Herbster, including our friend and colleague, Senator Julie Slama,” said the statement.
“Sexual assault is despicable and damaging,” the statement added. “This is not a question of politics — it is an issue of character and basic human decency.” Herbster’s actions “make him unfit to serve,” the statement concluded.
Under Nebraska state law, touching a person inappropriately without consent on the outside of their clothes constitutes third-degree sexual assault.
Critics on Twitter predicted the allegations against Herbster won’t faze Trump or shake his endorsement. Trump has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct. He was also recorded boasting about “grabbing” women “by the pussy.”