*(Via AJC.com) – Trying to keep the lid on a budding scandal, Republican/Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain denied on Monday that he had ever sexually harassed anyone and declared that reports of such allegations are a “witch hunt.”

Cain acknowledged that he was accused of sexual harassment when he ran the National Restaurant Association during the late 1990s but said the organization investigated the claims and found them to be baseless.

“In all of my over 40 years of business experience, running businesses and corporations, I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain said during a question-and-answer session following a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

The D.C. newspaper Politico, which first reported the story Sunday night on its website, said the restaurant association had paid cash settlements to two women who then left the organization.

They reportedly accused Cain of engaging in sexually suggestive and innuendo-filled conversations with them and making gestures that made them feel uncomfortable, though the gestures were not overtly sexual.

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In the video below, Herman Cain refuses to answer questions about Politico’s sexual harassment report.