Lynn Hummer, founder and president of the Watsonville-based Pregnant Mare Rescue, remembers a woman named Tara McCabe emailing her in 2014 and asking if she could help out and volunteer with her nonprofit.
Things started out fine, but Hummer says the relationship frayed after two years—once her volunteer had taken more than a combined $2,000 from Hummer herself and the rescue organization. Hummer says she grew to believe that the woman was constantly playing the angles or trying to run a scam.
“She was always in crisis, always looking for money,” Hummer says.
That woman, Tara McCabe, is better known these days as Tara Reade.
Reade is the former Joe Biden aide who has accused her ex-boss, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, of sexually assaulting her in 1993. Hummer told her story to Ed Krassenstein, one half of the Krassenstein brothers, who posted a story about Hummer’s experiences to the site Medium.
Hummer has since learned that the pro-Biden Krassenstein brothers duo has a less-than-stellar reputation, having been banned from Twitter last year for operating fake accounts. None of that changed how Hummer felt about their finished product—the details in their post, she says, were all correct. “They did a good job,” Hummer says of the Krassensteins. “They got the facts right, and they got the timeline right.”
In 2015, Hummer says Reade fell in love with Charm, one of the horses Hummer had rescued. Reade asked Hummer to let her take the Charm home and also waive the adoption fee. Hummer agreed. Hummer says that Reade later called an out-of-county veterinary doctor, racked up $1,400 in vet bills and tricked Pregnant Mare Rescue into paying Charm’s medical bills by having them sent to the nonprofit, where the bookkeeper paid up without understanding the backstory or asking any questions, Hummer explains.
Prior to that, Hummer says that Reade repeatedly begged for money. She says she ended up lending Reade more than $800 on three occasions—none of which Reade ever repaid. Additionally, Reade once hid her car on Hummer’s ranch to avoid having it repossessed, Hummer says. One time at a fundraiser, Reade hid a raffle ticket jar under a table to ensure that she would win the drawing by only entering one ticket, Hummer says.
The bottom line, she says, is that Reade can’t be trusted.
“I feel in my heart as an American citizen that this woman is a very big fraud,” Hummer says. “In my opinion, she’s very dangerous, especially in this year, this time.”
Foals Rush In
Reade was born locally, in Monterey—as she recently told interviewer Megyn Kelly in a sit-down interview posted to YouTube.
In the discussion, which focused primarily on Reade’s allegations about Biden, Reade accused Biden of digitally penetrating her in a Senate hallway. Reade first went public in April 2019 with allegations of sexual harassment, including how Biden would touch her shoulder and run his finger up her neck. In March of this year, Reade came forward with an additional charge, one of sexual assault.
Reade, who voted for Biden’s opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the 2020 presidential primary, has said that she filed a formal complaint and told three colleagues about Biden’s inappropriate behavior—but not about the sexual assault.
Those former colleagues have all denied hearing a complaint of any kind. The Senate personnel office does not have a record of such a complaint, nor does Reade herself. The Biden campaign also says it has no record of the complaint, and Biden has emphatically denied that the assault ever happened, with the former vice president recently telling MSNBC that anyone who believes Reade “probably shouldn’t vote for” him.
Reade could not be reached for comment. But her lawyer Douglas Wigdor—a Republican, who donated to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign—tells this news organization via email that “sadly, unsubstantiated attacks” like Hummer’s “will have a chilling effect on other survivors grappling with the prospect of coming forward.”
In the absence of an independent and nonpartisan investigation from the Democratic National Committee, Wigdor, who represented several sexual assault victims of Harvey Weinstein, says that Reade is “exploring next steps in an effort to get to the truth.”
Hummer has taken a lot of phone calls about her experience. Many callers come with their own agendas, and some are looking to poke holes in Hummer’s narrative. Some of Hummer’s friends think she should be more careful about which calls she takes. But Hummer stresses that she has the receipts and emails to back up her version of the events, and regardless, she says she’ll share her experience with anyone who will listen.
“Of course, now I’ve learned that some are in the Trump camp and they’re gonna support the story,” she says. “And I keep telling people, ‘For me, it’s not about any of that. It’s about showing this woman for her true colors. I think she’s really dangerous. I think she dishonors women. She could affect a presidential campaign. That is heavy stuff, regardless of how I feel about the candidates. I’m waiting for someone other than the Krassensteins to make the story. I’ve talked to the Rolling Stone. I’ve talked to Politico. I’ve talked to the Washington Post. I’ve talked to CBS, NBC. I’ve talked to Atlantic.”
On Friday, Politico broke a story about Reade, outlining her pattern of apparently leapfrogging from one California property to another, often leaving her aggrieved landlords and other acquaintances feeling manipulated or deceived in her wake.
Hummer says McCabe repeatedly bragged about her work on behalf of Biden. Other skeptics have noted that Hummer liked and retweeted praise for Biden, including his work combating sexual assault. “I’ve always been conflicted about Joe Biden,” Reade told Kelly in their YouTube chat. “I didn’t want to talk badly about him, and I wasn’t ready to tell my history with Joe Biden at that point at all.”
Reade also said that Biden’s work on the Violence Against Women act was very important to her. Last year the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office cited Reade as “a domestic violence expert,” who “provided critical testimony” in achieving a conviction for a man who assaulted his girlfriend.
Truth or Mare
In her discussion with Kelly, Reade remarked that it’s been oddly “freeing” to watch skeptics dig into her past and excavate skeletons from her closet, including the details of her bankruptcy. Reade’s bankruptcy case unfolded over the course of 2012, when Reade was living in Santa Cruz’s Midtown. She owed $400,000 in various debts, including taxes, according to court documents.
Hummer’s account of her experiences with Reade is corroborated by local attorney and fellow equine rescuer Kelly Klett, who briefly had Reade as a tenant in the late spring of 2018. Klett checked in with Hummer just before Reade moved in. Hummer warned Klett about her own experience with her former volunteer. Reade ultimately only stayed with Klett for a couple months before moving out.
“She misrepresented her financial status and couldn’t pay,” Klett says.
While living in Klett’s home, Reade damaged a fountain on the property. She pleaded with her landlord to return her full deposit, promising to repair the fountain herself. Reade never fixed the fountain, Klett says. Klett says Reade also took some of her law books. At this point, Klett says she doesn’t expect to ever see those books again.
Hummer says she last saw Reade at a local feed store in October 2018. Reade said hello, Hummer remembers, but she ignored her onetime volunteer.
In regards to her own claims, Hummer says she never filed a report with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. She also never seriously considered taking Reade to court.
“Well, number one, that takes money,” Hummer explains. “I’d rather spend it helping horses than chasing after someone who I know doesn’t have a dime. Number two, it takes resources. We don’t have any staff. We’re small. I have a bookkeeper and a barn manager and me. We’re the three main peeps. I don’t have someone doing my internet and my blogging and someone else doing my social media. That’s not how it works.”
Additional reporting by Jennifer Wadsworth.