Sean Parnell previously downplayed accusations against Roy Moore, latest in string of controversial statements | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sean Parnell previously downplayed accusations against Roy Moore, latest in string of controversial statements

click to enlarge Sean Parnell previously downplayed accusations against Roy Moore, latest in string of controversial statements
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Sean Parnell on S.E. Cupp Unfiltered on Dec. 4, 2017
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell was part of a panel during a CNN political show in late 2017 discussing then-Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and the sexual assault allegations made against Moore. Parnell repeatedly downplayed those accusations and defended the Republican National Committee and then-President Donald Trump for supporting Moore, even after the allegations, and corroborating reporting, were made against Moore.

These comments come to light as Parnell, a resident in Ohio Township just outside of Pittsburgh, has been hit with attacks about sexist comments he made in 2019, as well as discrimination lawsuits filed against his nonprofit, and criticism stemming from protection from abuse orders against him that were filed by his ex-wife in 2017 and 2018.

In November 2017, the Washington Post reported accusations from a woman who claimed that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 14 years old and Moore was 32 years old, and interviewed three other women who said that Moore pursued them when they were ages 16-18 and Moore was in his 30s. Also in November 2017, The New Yorker reported that several figures in Alabama — including two police officers who worked in the town where Moore lived and mall employees — said that Moore had been banned from the mall because he was badgering teen girls.

On Dec. 4 and 5, 2017, Parnell appeared as a panelist on CNN’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered, where he didn’t speak kindly of Moore, saying repeatedly that he didn’t like him, but said he believed that Moore should have the presumption of innocence and noted “he wasn’t convicted of a crime.” The host of the show, S.E. Cupp, asked Parnell on Dec. 4 as “a good conservative and a good Christian” how he and other conservatives can compartmentalize the credible accusations made against Moore against how Alabama Republicans are denying the accusations or don’t care about them being made.
Parnell responded: “Well, I mean, first of all, I don't know Roy Moore. I don't particularly like the guy. In fact, everything I’ve read, the guy served in the army, he slept in a different foxhole than his guys because he was afraid his own guys were going to frag him or kill him. I mean, he doesn't have, he doesn't have a long history of being a great upstanding guy or leader. So, I mean, the bottom, I don't have any skin in this fight. But I think the operative term here is he was just accused. And I do think that he is entitled to due process under the law. He wasn't convicted of a crime. Look, like I said, I don't like the guy, but should we make people, I mean, the real operative question here is, should somebody lose their job or not be allowed to run for political office just because somebody makes an accusation?”

S.E. Cupp responds by saying that nothing is stopping Moore from running and no one is saying Moore doesn’t have the right to run. She then asks if Parnell believed the sexual assault allegations made against Harvey Weinstein.

Parnell: “Yeah, but I think they're qualitatively different points. Yeah. Weinstein was on tape.”

Cupp: “And there's a lot of different police officers are saying that they shut down a mall. They prohibited Roy Moore from going to a mall because he was harassing young girls. You don't believe cops?”

Parnell: “Listen, this is a tough and perilous question to answer because obviously.”

Requests for comment to the Parnell campaign were not returned.

On Dec. 5, 2017, Parnell again appeared on S.E. Cupp Unfiltered where he was again pressed if the accusations against Moore bothered him, and if he agreed with the RNC’s move to financially support Moore (after initially distancing themselves from Moore) and Trump’s support of Moore after the allegations were made. Parnell said he didn’t have any issues with the RNC coming back into the race, or with Trump coming in to endorse him.
Parnell also said on Dec. 5 that the accusations against Moore were not “due process.” After other panelists brought up that Moore acknowledged on Fox News that he remembered the girls who accused him of pursuing them, Parnell said he was “trying to give the guy a little grace here,” in reference to Moore.

These clips come to light as Parnell has been hit with attacks ads from a Super PAC supporting Republican Senate candidate Jeff Bartos that highlight sexist comments Parnell made on television in 2019, as well as a lawsuit filed in 2020 by Parnell’s ex-wife, alleging that groups Parnell has close ties to — Fairway Independent Mortgage Company and American Warrior Initiative — discriminated against her by firing her because she was no longer married to Parnell, citing Parnell’s sexist comments as evidence.

Zack Roday of Jobs for Our Future PAC, the Super PAC supporting Bartos, says that Parnell's comments about Moore show that Parnell is a flawed candidate for U.S. Senate, especially given the Democrats' narrow senate majority. Super PACs are not officially related to any candidates.

“Roy Moore proved that Republican primary nominees with personal baggage help Chuck Schumer win races," says Roday, referencing the current Democratic Senate Majority Leader and Moore's special election loss. "With the senate majority on the line, that’s a risky bet.”

Pittsburgh City Paper first reported on Parnell’s 2019 appearance on Fox Nation, where he said, “The idea that a woman doesn’t need a man to be successful, the idea that a woman doesn’t need a man to have a baby, the idea that a woman can live a happy and fulfilling life without a man, I think it’s all nonsense.” In a tweet after CP sent a request to comment to Parnell, he said the comments were made tongue-in-cheek.

Bartos (R-Montgomery) has personally attacked Parnell over temporary protection from abuse orders that Parnell’s ex-wife filed against him in 2017 and 2018. In both instances, Butler County officials served the PFAs — which are issued after brief hearings before a judge involving only the accuser, not the accused — and Parnell was ordered to give up his guns. In 2018, Parnell “became loud and disruptive” at the Domestic Relations Office, according to a report from the Butler County Sheriff's office, which prompted a call to the Sheriff's office. In 2017, Parnell was ordered to leave the home. The 2017 temporary PFA was dropped about two weeks later, and a full protection PFA was denied by a judge in 2018 after a hearing. Parnell is currently in an ongoing divorce and custody battle with his ex-wife.

“Sean’s actions and attitude toward women are disturbing, well-documented, and disqualifying,” Bartos told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sept. 7, which came shortly after Parnell received an endorsement from Trump.

The Bartos campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this story.