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Scottie Nell Hughes at the 2017 Politicon conference. Photo: Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP

Scottie Nell Hughes, a conservative political commentator, sued Fox News Monday alleging Fox Business host Charles Payne raped her and the network retaliated against her following her allegations, per the NYT.

Payne, host of "Making Money," was suspended in July pending an investigation into Hughes' allegations. He returned to the air earlier this month. He has denied the allegations.

Why it matters: Fox has been rocked by sexual harassment allegations have have led to millions of dollars in legal settlements and the departure of Chairman Roger Ailes and host Bill O'Reilly.

Hughes claims in the suit that Payne forced his way into her hotel room in July 2013 before sexually assaulting her, and says she was coerced into having a sexual relationship with him for the next two years in order to secure opportunities at Fox.

She further alleges that after she ended the relationship she was blacklisted from the network, and after she raised the allegations Fox leaked a story about her to the National Enquirer.

From Hughes: "My complaint speaks for itself. What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I'm now living. On my behalf, Wigdor LLP will expose Fox's unconscionable conduct, including leaking my name to the media. I am grateful to my husband, family, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and support."

From her lawyer: "On behalf of Scottie Nell Hughes, today we filed an action against Fox to hold it accountable for yet another case involving sexual harassment and retaliation inflicted by Fox executives in order to protect male, on-air talent. As alleged in the complaint, after Ms. Hughes confidentially reached out to Fox to disclose that she was sexually assaulted and raped by Fox anchor Charles Payne, Fox ruthlessly leaked her name to a reporter at the National Enquirer, along with a self-serving 'statement' by Payne apologizing for what he falsely described as an 'affair.' We intend to aggressively litigate Ms. Hughes's claims and hold Fox accountable to the fullest extent under the law."

From Payne's lawyer: "My client Charles Payne vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless complaint. We are confident that when the evidence is presented in this case, Mr. Payne will be fully vindicated and these outrageous accusations against him will be confirmed as completely false."

A spokesperson for Fox Business did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

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Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.

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