Three former employees of the famed Cato Institute say they were sexually harassed by Ed Crane, the 73-year-old co-founder and president emeritus of the think tank and one of the most recognizable figures in the libertarian movement.
One former employee said Crane asked her to take off her bra. Another said he compared her breasts to pornographic images on his computer. A third said he sent her an email on breast augmentation. Crane also settled an additional sexual harassment claim by a former employee in 2012, her lawyer confirmed to POLITICO.
Crane retains the title of president emeritus at Cato and was paid more than $400,000 annually from the powerful think tank in the years after he left, but a Cato spokesperson said his consulting contract has ended and he is no longer employed by the think tank.
Former employees say Cato’s libertarian ideals extended to the workplace. A 1999 book on sexual harassment published as a “Cato Institute book” encouraged women to find avenues for dealing with sexual harassment that didn’t involve reporting incidents to management or using the legal system.
Under Crane, Cato “liked to hire beautiful young people,” Jones added. “Everybody was above-average ... I was flattered to be picked.” Jones emphasized she never experienced any inappropriate behavior while working at Cato and had a positive experience there.
Whenever a new crop of interns arrived, which happened three times a year, Cato would distribute headshots and short bios of the interns to staff. The handout was colloquially known by some men around the office as “The Menu,” according to two former Cato employees.
Here is Think Tank Watch's piece from December about a wave of sexual misconduct allegations hitting think tank land.
Here is an old Think Tank Watch piece about the head of a Chinese think tank being removed from his post due to a sex scandal.