Tags: desantis | make public | congress | sexual harrassament | dont pay

Pressure Mounts to Disclose Names of Who Settled Harassment Claims

Image: Pressure Mounts to Disclose Names of Who Settled Harassment Claims
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 November 2017 09:40 PM

As calls increase for Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, to resign, lawmakers are stepping up efforts to unmask the names of colleagues who paid settlements with taxpayer money to women who accused them of sexual harassment.

Members of Congress have a long tradition of watching out for each other, but the latest scandals, including two new accusers who say Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, groped them while posing for photos, have sparked a change of heart.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., proposed a bill on Wednesday requiring settlements to be made public and preventing Congress from paying for them going forward.

"It's taxpayer dollars at issue; taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent," DeSantis told Politico. He said he doesn't understand "why the taxpayer should ever be on the hook for private misconduct of a member. ... That should not be something the taxpayers are funding."

Several members of both parties already have contacted him about becoming co-sponsors, he said.

But, Politico notes, some members oppose public disclosures of past payments because some may have been falsely accused, settling only to avoid long and costly litigation.

Not everyone buys that argument.

"They've used our tax dollars to settle cases where they're being accused, at least, of violating laws they're enacting and expect others to live under," Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots, told Politico.

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia, told Politico he is drafting his own bill that would prevent use of taxpayer money to pay sexual harassment settlements.

"There is no way that the taxpayer should be subsidizing predatory behavior. Period," Taylor said.

The offices of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., say they don't have the names even if they wanted to released them, though Politico reported that they could get them from the top members of each party on the House Administration Committee, which approves settlement payments from the Office of Compliance.

But there remains one problem: the Office of Compliance does not keep records of payments made from the members' own office budgets. That's the method Conyers used.

"Based on my experience, that ends up being the approach that is most feasible," one source told Politico.

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As calls increase for Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, to resign, lawmakers are stepping up efforts to unmask the names of colleagues who paid settlements with taxpayer money to women who accused them of sexual harassment.Members of Congress have a long tradition of watching...
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017 09:40 PM
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