EXCLUSIVE: The Republican National Committee on Tuesday launched a digital ad campaign raising questions about whether the University of Delaware has any documents under seal related to Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden.
The RNC told Fox News that the initial buy would run on Facebook, Instagram, Google and other platforms in Delaware and Philadelphia. A source familiar with the planning also told Fox News that the ad buy is actively being discussed by GOP officials to expand, and be put in the rotation in key states across the country ahead of the 2020 election.
The RNC shared with Fox News an example of one of the ads as part of the campaign, which states: “University of Delaware is complicit in sexual assault cover up.”
“Joe Biden must be held accountable for the very serious and credible sexual assault accusation,” RNC spokesman Rick Gorka told Fox News. “The documents housed at the University of Delaware, the very documents the Biden’s reviewed just before he launched his latest presidential campaign, must be made available to investigators, the media and the public.”
Gorka added: “It is also important to know if the University of Delaware believes the women or if they believe in protecting their powerful benefactors.”
But the former vice president and his presidential campaign have vehemently denied the allegations and have repeatedly stressed that the university does not have any of the documents from his time in the Senate pertaining to personnel or any documents relevant to Reade’s allegations.
The RNC's five-figure ad buy directs supporters to a page on the GOP website that says in bold, capital letters: "RELEASE THE DOCUMENTS."
"Court documents from 1996 have revealed that Tara Reade came forward with allegations of sexual assault well over 20 years ago," the GOP website states. "The shocking court declarations have increased pressure on the University of Delaware which is withholding evidence pertinent to the investigation."
The website adds: "We can't let this egregious double standard get in the way of ensuring that justice is served," and encourages supporters to sign a petition to "DEMAND the release of the Delaware Documents!"
The court documents that the RNC is referring to did not discuss sexual assault allegations. The documents showed Reade's ex-husband was told about "sexual harassment" that took place while she worked in Biden's office. The documents do not directly accuse Biden of sexual harassment or refer to a sexual assault.
The Biden campaign declined to comment on the RNC's ads.
Biden has declined to press the University of Delaware to search those records, and instead requested that the secretary of the Senate search through records from 1993 for the purported complaint by Reade.
The secretary of the Senate, though, made clear that nothing short of a change in the law could allow the public – or anyone – to access the files.
Senate Secretary Julie Adams issued a statement earlier this month saying that "the Secretary has no discretion to disclose" the information or records that Biden asked for – specifically a complaint the former Senate staffer says she filed with what at the time would have most likely been the Office of Fair Employment Practices – and responded to further queries from Biden.
In short, she said she can't even confirm if the records exist, and not even those involved in original complaints from the time can see them.
The office did release the procedures in place for the Office of Fair Employment Practices in 1993, which said an employee would have had to first submit a request for counseling, complete it, and then pursue “mediation” before filing a formal complaint.
That process, under the procedures, is confidential. The Associated Press reported that Reade said in an interview she “chickened out” on filing full harassment or assault allegations — but Reade later told Fox News that she filed some kind of “complaint.”
So the procedures left unclear whether this document would exist.
Further, the University of Delaware – which has additional Senate records that Biden insists are irrelevant to the allegations at hand – told Fox News earlier this month that those files are closed to the public for now absent Biden's "express consent."
"Vice President Biden donated his Senatorial papers to the University of Delaware pursuant to an agreement that prohibits the University from providing public access to those papers until they have been properly processed and archived,” a spokesperson for University of Delaware said in a statement. “The University is bound by, and will comply with, the agreement. Until the archival process is complete and the collection is opened to the public, access is only available with Vice President Biden's consent.”
The university has added that Biden “and his designees have access, under supervision of staff from the Unversity's Special Collections unit, to materials during the process.”
“No Biden designee has visited the collection since November 2019,” the spokesperson said. “No documents have been added or removed by any Biden designees during any visits. The donor agreement is not a public document; this is standard university practice for all donor agreements.”
The school also reiterated that because documents have not been digitized, "there is no systematic way to search the archive as has been suggested.”
The school, however, confirmed to Fox News last month that it technically owns the documents. It has changed the terms of when it would release the papers to the public before.
The university initially said it expected to make the records “available to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected public office.” In April 2019, just hours before Biden announced his current presidential bid, the university changed its timeline, and said the papers wouldn't be released until either Dec. 31, 2019 or until two years after Biden “retires from public life,” whichever comes later.
Biden, though, has repeatedly said there would be no files related to Reade at the university.
"There is nothing, they're not there ... The material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files ... but it does have a lot of confidential conversations" with other officials, like the president and foreign dignitaries, Biden said.
"That would not be something that would be revealed while I was in public office or while I was seeking public office. It just stands to reason. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has done that either," Biden continued. He said such high-profile conversations and other confidential files could be used as campaign “fodder."
Nevertheless, the RNC told Fox News that they have “strong reason to believe” Biden “is hiding key documents at the University of Delaware.”
Meanwhile, Biden has repeatedly denied Reade's allegations.
“No, it is not true,” Biden said during an interview on MSNBC earlier this month. “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn’t. It never happened.”
"The facts in this case do not exist," he added. "Look at the facts and I assure you it did not happen. Period.”
Reade continues to claim that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 while she worked as a staffer in his Senate office.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.