Some argue that it’s voters who should decide whether to elect a pedophile, sexual abuser or harasser into public office. This week, voters in Alabama did just that! So then, why aren’t the names of those currently in office who have committed such acts being released? Shouldn’t those of us who paid (more than $17 million in taxpayer money since ’97) be given the information we need to make an informed voting decision? I think so.
Unfortunately, the Office of Compliance, which handles congressional labor and employment disputes, has no legal obligation to turn over the names of lawmakers involved in sexual harassment/abuse settlements. In fact, that office is currently prohibited from doing so by federal law. I have no interest in learning the names of the victims. I believe that their confidentiality should be protected, but the lawmakers being accused of such behavior, who have provided a financial settlement to the accused, well, they should be identified.
In a climate where every day brings new allegations of sexual misconduct committed by a public figure the call on Congress to release the names is being lost. I recognize that there is attention being placed on Congress to change their policies and procedures regarding allegations of sexual harassment and abuse and I support those efforts. In recent weeks there have been hearings before the House Administration Committee to examine how sexual harassment complaints are handled in Congress and just this week Paul Ryan announced that Congress will no longer use taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims. But, we cannot continue to protect those who currently serve in office who have committed sexual harassment and abuse and have used our money to silence their victims.
Not only is their behavior problematic for the individual they targeted, it permeates the office culture and it taints the entire institution of Congress.
I hope that whoever is on that confidential list of lawmakers who have settled harassment claims, that they’re shaking in their boots, loafers, oxfords, or sneakers. There is a lot to be concerned with these days, but we need to step it up and call on Congress to release the names. In order to change the culture, we need to change it from within. #Resist #Grabthembytheballot