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The senator who told Kirsten Gillibrand “I like my girls chubby” has been identified

The late Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), in 2009.
The late Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), in 2009.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

When Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released her autobiography last month, she raised eyebrows by revealing that she had received several crude comments from male colleagues, particularly about her weight. For instance, she wrote:

'After losing that fifty pounds, I was back to the other side of the coin: receiving comments about my appearance for looking better than I had in years. One of my favorite older members of the Senate walked up behind me, squeezed my waist, and said, "Don't lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!" He meant well, but those words didn't go over as he planned.'

There's been speculation about which senator Gillibrand was referring to, and this morning Carl Hulse of the New York Times reports that it was the beloved Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), who served in the Senate for 50 years until his death in December 2012.

Hulse also writes of uglier, "all but forgotten" accusations against Inouye from 1992, when his hairdresser publicly accused him of forcing her into sex. Here's a disturbing excerpt from a contemporaneous Associated Press report on the topic:

"Lenore Kwock told a news conference Friday that Inouye assaulted her when she went to his Waikiki apartment in 1975 on an errand for her boss — but she didn't consider it rape. 'As soon as I walked through the door, he grabbed me, and proceeded his advances on me,' Kwock said. 'I was very young, inexperienced and scared. I felt overpowered by him, and the fact that he was Daniel Inouye. He removed my clothing, and I'm just thinking, 'This is going to happen.'"

Hulse writes that, in 1992, "one Hawaii state senator announced that she had heard from nine other women who said they had been sexually harassed by Mr. Inouye" — but that those women chose not to come forward.

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