ST. LOUIS – Bill Haas says he was just carrying on a late-night conversation on Facebook Messenger with a woman on Saturday. But the Missouri Democratic Party contends it was much more serious.
The party said Haas, who has been running for various offices for close to three decades, engaged in “inexcusable” behavior.
“Bill Haas’ behavior is deplorable, inexcusable, and grossly immoral harassment of women has no place in the Democratic Party,” said a statement from the party.
The statement said the party was asking Haas to stop all of his campaigns immediately. He’s now running for the Democratic nomination for state senate in the 5th District.
“We encourage any and all women who have been harassed or experienced unsolicited comments by Mr. Haas to contact us and share their experience, if they feel comfortable doing so.”
Andrew Storey, director of outreach and party affairs for the Missouri Democrats, said little more. He said the party learned of the incident late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, but wouldn’t comment further.
“We stand by our statement,” is all he said.
The statement said, “The Missouri Democratic Party will not support any candidate who doesn’t treat men and women with empathy, compassion, dignity and respect.”
Haas, though, said that he had done nothing wrong although he had done some silly and embarrassing things.
“The Democratic Party asking for women to come forward is beyond contempt, and any who do, one might say that it says more about them than me,” he wrote in an email.
“They ought to at least with their names and details so I have a fair chance to respond,” Haas wrote.. “That’s my story and I’m going to stick to it.”
Over the years, Haas has run for mayor, school board member, congressman, president and other elected offices.
Often good for a quote, he wrote in a blog in 2005 that he’d thought of committing suicide because of his deteriorating finances. A Cleveland native and former corporate lawyer, he ran a personal ad in 1996 asking for an independently wealthy wife.
Something more serious may have happened in the Facebook Messenger conversation on Saturday night.
Haas said he had been Facebook friends with the woman for several weeks or months or weeks – he wasn’t sure. A short time before the conversation, she sent out a mass message asking friends to contribute to a political campaign.
Whereas he would normally block solicitations, he didn’t this time, he said, because, “She was pretty-ish; and it was for a Democrat.”
They exchanged brief greetings from time to time until Saturday night, when they kept messaging.
“So I asked if she were alone, [because] if not, chatting might not be convenient. I’ve actually never asked that before, so why this time? I don’t know; I don’t chat that often at night on messenger, or even during day;” Haas said.
“She said ‘no’; so I said ‘bf?’ [boyfriend?]. There was no answer, and then I said, ‘Your profile says you’re “interested in men.”’ No answer. End of conversation.”
According to Haas, he started getting harassing tweets every 2 minutes soon after the end of the Facebook conversation.
“Starting within minutes of my conversation with her ending, I was told by one of the tweeters that she had written all her contacts asking them to report (and, it seems) report me. This instead of just deleting me from messenger. And she didn’t report me herself, I guess, because there was obviously nothing to report. So she thought she’d harass me instead.”
After dealing with that for 23 hours, he suspended [deactivated, not deleted] his Twitter account. He since has reactivated it.