Jenny Beth’s Journal: How Congress deals with its sexual harassment accusations — at the taxpayers’ expense
Have you ever wondered how Congress manages claims of sexual harassments against members and its staffers? We call it the “shush fund,” filled with taxpayer dollars to hush up and pay off those who accuse members of Congress and their staffers of sexual misconduct.
So the [Congressional Accountability Act] CAA created the “Office of Compliance” to deal with such issues. Complainants begin the dispute resolution process with a mandatory (yes, really) course of counseling that can last up to 30 days. Only after completing the compulsory counseling may a complainant pursue mediation. That, too, can last up to 30 days. If mediation fails to resolve the issue to the complainant’s satisfaction, she or he can then go to an administrative hearing, or file a federal lawsuit.
Here’s the kicker: If the dispute is resolved in favor of the complainant (read: victim), funds for the settlement don’t come out of the offender’s personal bank account, or his or her campaign account. Instead, they come out of a secret account maintained by the Office of Compliance. It is so secret, in fact, that taxpayers don’t even know they are funding it.
According to the Washington Post, there were 235 complainants received compensation totaling $15.2 million between 1997 and 2014. That’s more than one settlement per month for 17 years and nearly $1 million per year. We, the taxpayers, have no idea on whose behalf we’ve been paying to settle these sexual harassment claims. That’s wrong.
Congress’ way of dealing with these cases is unfair to taxpayers and unjust for the accuser and the accusee, who are not granted a fair trial. Congress would rather abuse tax dollars and sweep any ‘sensitive mess’ under the rug. Hard-working Americans deserve to know which Senators, Representatives or staffers are using their tax dollars to pay off victims of sexual misconduct.