‘Manipulative, deceitful, user’: Tara Reade left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances

“I would sit down and talk to her and try to be encouraging and supportive,” said Wrye, who noted Reade “had heart and some good qualities.”
“This lack of money was hugely problematic for her, she was always on the ropes in that way.”
Reade had spoken highly of Biden, the former boss who employed her as a staff assistant from late 1992 to August 1993, and never mentioned assault or harassment, Wrye recalls. But what Wrye remembers most is that by the time Reade left their property and moved on, Wrye felt burned.
After her husband suffered a brain injury that forced the couple to sell the property, Wrye said, Reade turned on them.
“She became really difficult,” Wrye said. “She said, ‘You’re going to have to pay me to get me to leave.’”
“She was manipulative,” said Wrye, a self-described feminist and social activist. “She was always saying she was going to get it together, but she couldn’t. And ‘could you help her’?”
Wrye’s distressing experience with Reade wasn’t an isolated case. Over the past decade, Reade has left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in California’s Central Coast region who say they remember two things about her — she spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.
As part of an investigation into Reade’s allegations against Biden — charges that are already shaping the contours of his campaign against a president who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by multiple women — POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen people, many of whom interacted with Reade through her involvement in the animal-rescue community.
A number of those in close contact with Reade over the past 12 years, a period in which she went by the names Tara Reade, Tara McCabe or Alexandra McCabe, laid out a familiar pattern: Reade ingratiated herself, explained she was down on her luck and needed help, and eventually took advantage of their goodwill to extract money, skip rent payments or walk out on other bills.
The people quoted in this article provided copies of past emails, screenshots of Facebook Messenger or text exchanges with Reade, copies of billing invoices or court records detailing their grievances or correspondence. POLITICO also reviewed dozens of public records, including court documents, divorce filings and Reade’s 2012 bankruptcy records.
The accounts paint a picture of Reade’s life in the years leading up to her allegations, in which she spoke often of her connection to Biden but also of troubles in her personal life and a need for money. Sexual abuse victims sometimes offer contradictory information about their alleged abusers, so her comments do not necessarily refute her claims against the former vice president. But they add weight to the evidence that she spoke positively about him in the years before she accused him of digitally penetrating her in the early ’90s.Reached by phone, Reade declined to answer specific questions and referred the matter to her attorney, Douglas Wigdor.
Wigdor argued that Reade’s favorable comments about Biden are no different than how some of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein’s accusers continued to have contact with him even after they said he abused them.
“Sort of like some of the late victims of Harvey Weinstein,” said Wigdor, who has represented several Weinstein accusers. “That is not uncommon.”
But many of those who knew her well in recent years said she frequently lied or sought to manipulate them, in many instances taking advantage of their desire to help a person they felt was down on her luck.
“You can use these words: manipulative, deceitful, user,” said Kelly Klett, an attorney who rented Reade a room in her home in 2018. “Looking back at it all now, that is exactly how I view her and how I feel about her.”
“She has a problem,” said Lynn Hummer, who owns a horse sanctuary where Reade volunteered for two years, beginning in 2014.
She described Reade as “very clever, manipulative. … I do think she’s a liar.”
Hummer provided an email from an exchange in which, within weeks of starting at the ranch, Reade asked whether she could bring her car on Hummer’s property to hide it from “the repo man.” Hummer declined.
In another instance, Reade came by the ranch desperately seeking $200 to pay the rent, Hummer said. On the way to Reade’s house, Hummer said she didn’t notice that Reade texted her and upped her request from $200 to $350.
Hummer also alleged Reade called a veterinarian to the ranch to service her personal horse, leaving Hummer to pay a $1,400 bill.
Hummer has publicly leveled that charge and others since Reade’s accusations against Biden have gone public. On social media last month, Reade denied them.
“A lawyer will be in contact with you for defaming me,” Reade said over Twitter. “You may not continue to spread false information regarding my life.”
In a brief conversation, Reade said she hoped POLITICO was doing its own reporting and not relying on a March post published on Medium that she said was false.
“I’ve been getting friends calling me and crying and saying ‘I never said that,’” Reade said.
Wigdor took issue with the premise of this article, saying such scrutiny discourages victims of sexual violence from coming forward.
“If the assertion is that someone who has lied to their landlord because they don’t have the money to pay rent so then they lied about a sexual assault, I don’t think that is fair journalism,” Wigdor said in an interview.
Like Wrye, Austin Chung, a Monterey-area real estate investor who rented Reade a house from 2008-10, learned of Reade’s charges against Biden from television.
“Look,” he told his wife when he first saw Reade on the screen, “she has gone big time. She’s going after the big fish now.”
Chung said Reade, who went by Alexandra McCabe at the time, claimed that she was on the run from domestic violence and trying to start over.
In 1996, a judge in San Luis Obispo Superior Court authorized a temporary restraining order against Reade’s then-husband. At the time, the couple had a young daughter together. They later divorced.
Her former husband has denied her claims.

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