We do not send our representatives to Washington to use their positions to commit sexual harassment. And, when they do and have to settle their workplace disputes, we should not be the ones financing their settlements.
In the early 90s, there was a scandal over members of the House and Senate bouncing checks at the Congressional bank. Most of us weren’t even aware Congress had its own bank. The outrage was so loud that Congress eventually closed the bank. I believe this new information regarding a taxpayer-financed Congressional “shush” fund should garner more outrage.
While Democratic Congressman John Conyers’ settlement with a staffer accusing him of sexual misconduct came out of his own budget, it exposed that over $17 million of our money has been paid to settle workplace disputes, which includes cases of sexual harassment.
Do you know which lawmakers or their aides have settled disputes over sexual harassment? I don’t know either because it’s kept secret.
Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, testified that two sitting members of Congress, one in each party, have engaged in sexual harassment. She blames the Office of Compliance, which doles out the money. The Office of Compliance is complicit with sexual harassment because by paying these funds out secretly it doesn’t provide a warning for potential victims or punishment for the perpetrators.
Both chambers are now changing rules regarding sexual harassment. The House is about to pass a resolution requiring all members and their staffs participate in anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training, which the Senate has already adopted. A larger hurdle will be getting them to change the rules regarding secrecy. What do you want to bet there are more than two members who have paid out settlements? How many former members are there?
I want to know and I demand that right. So should you. We already know the House and Senate are full of shit weasels but do we have to finance them when they get gropey?
While Conyer’s settlement didn’t come from the “shush” fund, we still paid for it as it came out of his office’s budget. Should Conyers resign? Yes. While the charges against him may have been politically motivated, he still paid out a settlement, used our money to do it, and then kept it hidden. Yes, Conyers should resign. I will not be partisan when it comes to sexual harassment, especially when it’s combined with making us pay the toll for it. And, yes. It’s not fair for Conyers to resign while Trump is still in office but, one hurdle at a time, people.
Plus, if Conyers has to eat it maybe it’ll force those who legislate themselves to take this issue seriously. They need special training to behave like human beings instead of leeches and, they need to end the pattern of secrecy to protect themselves.
Settlements are often the only means in which a victim achieves some sort of justice. Unfortunately, these settlements are also used to silence the victims and protect the perpetrators. Using our money to silence victims is unjust and it should be criminal. Our money should not be used to protect the accused.
I want the accused named and I want it done now.
I haven’t been silenced about this and I intend to get very loud. Join me. Hold our elected representatives accountable.
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