ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- An attorney who represented Paula Jones in a sexual harassment suit against former President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s says he's not happy the decades-old accusations are taking center stage in the current presidential election cycle.
"It looks like we're dealing with a reality TV show this time around," said John Whitehead, founder of the civil rights nonprofit The Rutherford Institute.
Jones was back in the news this week as one of four women joining Donald Trump at a pre-debate press conference to call out Bill Clinton for his behavior towards women. The event came two days after a recording leaked of Trump describing sexual assault in lewd terms.
In the 1990s, Jones accused Clinton of sexually propositioning and exposing himself to her in a hotel room when he was Governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee. The case was dismissed by a lower court, but Jones appealed and the dismissal was overturned. Clinton settled for $850,000 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the case could go forward while Clinton was still in office.
Whitehead says he doesn't fault Hillary Clinton for her husband's past behavior, but he does blame her for not speaking up on behalf of his accusers at the time.
"I would have liked to have heard Hillary come out and say, 'I want to defend women. I want to be for women's rights.' We heard none of that," he said.
Despite his history with the Clintons, Whitehead says he's not a Trump fan either, and he's bothered by the current focus on both candidates' personal scandals, which have been on display in the debates and in subsequent campaign events.
Whitehead says he feels the insults are preventing discussions on serious issues including Russia, immigration, and the economy.
"We're not hearing about any of that," he said. "We're hearing people talk about what someone said on an old videotape or something like that."
Whitehead says he doesn't take public political positions, but he wishes there were other options for this election.
"There's really qualified people in the country that could be president," he said. "Why aren't we seeing those? Why have we got two people that have trouble articulating issues and have all these background problems?"