DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa Democratic governor candidate Nate Boulton suspended his campaign Thursday after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light.
Three women had alleged that State Sen. Boulton touched them inappropriately during separate incidents several years ago, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday.
One woman told the Register that Boulton, 38, repeatedly grabbed her buttocks at a bar in 2015. Two other women told the newspaper that he rubbed his clothed crotch against them in separate incidents more than a decade ago.
Boulton, a Des Moines attorney serving his first term in the Iowa Senate, did not deny the accusations in a statement released after the report was published. On Wednesday, he indicated that he had no plans to drop out of the race.
“I want to clearly and unmistakably apologize to the women who have come forward,” he said. “Regardless of the difference in my memory or the context of the situation, it is not my place to disqualify what these women felt at the time or in hindsight. While this is an embarrassing conversation for me to have today, I think it is important we have it, and I hope young men can learn about gauging conduct in social settings and continue to learn about and engage in the discussion.”
After Boulton’s suspension, five people remain in the crowded race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Early voting for the June 5 primary began May 7.
The contest could be decided in a party convention if no candidate secures 35 percent of the vote next month.
Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in a statement Wednesday: “Sexual harassment is unacceptable. Period. Everyone who comes forward with experiences of sexual harassment needs to be heard. Any candidate who represents our party must embody and promote those principles.”
Janet Petersen, the Des Moines minority leader in the Iowa Senate who had endorsed Boulton’s candidacy, called the allegations “a serious matter.”
“Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be tolerated by anyone, anywhere,” she said.