Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has been fired for misconduct by Morgan Stanley after facing a human resources investigation into allegations of misconduct, a company spokeswoman confirmed.
“He has been terminated for conduct inconsistent with our values and in violation of our policies,” a spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley told HuffPost in an email.
At least one woman, who is not a Morgan Stanley employee but interacted with Ford in a professional capacity, was interviewed by Morgan Stanley’s HR department as part of the investigation.
In two interviews with HuffPost, the woman alleged that Ford engaged in harassment, intimidation, and forcibly grabbed her one evening in Manhattan, leading her to seek aid from a building security guard. The incident took place several years ago when Ford and the woman were supposed to be meeting for professional reasons. Ford continued to contact her after the encounter until she wrote an email asking him to cease contact.
The email, which was reviewed by HuffPost, shows that the woman emailed Ford after he repeatedly asked her to drinks. She asked him not to contact her anymore, citing his inappropriate conduct the evening where he forcibly grabbed and harassed her.
Ford replied to the email by apologizing and agreeing not to contact her. “Hey very sorry. Meant no harm,” the email reads. “And I apologize for whatever I may have said or what was said. And my overtures are strictly professional. Again I apologize didn’t mean to be inappropriate at all. Sorry that impression was left.”
HuffPost is not identifying the woman at her request but has reviewed emails that confirm her interactions with Ford and spoke to two people whom the woman confided in about the incident. One woman heard from Ford’s accuser the night of the incident and described her as “distraught, shocked, and frightened,” and said that she was concerned about any career ramifications should she report the incident.
In a statement provided to HuffPost, Ford denied the allegations: “This simply did not happen. I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life. Having drinks and dinner for work is part of my job, and all of my outreach to the news reporter making these false allegations was professional and at the direction of my firm for business purposes. I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue. False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers. I will now be bringing legal action against the reporter who has made these false claims about me as well as Morgan Stanley for improper termination.”
John Singer, Ford’s employment counsel with the firm Singer Deutsch LLP, said “Morgan Stanley has still not told Harold directly of his termination, and unlike every other circumstance I’ve been in the company has refused provide me with a reason.”
He added: “This all demonstrates how this was a matter of convenience during a hyper-sensitive time and not based on real facts.”
Ford comes from a prominent political family in Tennessee. His father, Harold Ford Sr., held a congressional seat for 12 terms before retiring, leaving his son to run for the seat, a race which he won handily. Ford served in the House for nearly 10 years before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Bill Frist. Ford lost that hotly contested 2006 race by fewer than three points to current Republican Sen. Bob Corker.
Since leaving Congress in 2007, Ford has worked for two financial services companies, first for Merrill Lynch and then Morgan Stanley, which he joined in 2011 as a managing director.
At the time Morgan Stanley announced the hire, The New York Times described Ford’s role as a rainmaker of sorts: “Mr. Ford will be responsible for ‘building business opportunities’ for clients, Morgan Stanley said. He will manage relationships with corporate directors, senior executives and institutional investors, as well as private clients.”
Ford also serves as a paid on-air political analyst for NBC/MSNBC and regularly appears on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”
This story has been updated to include statements from Ford and Singer.