Tags: ron desantis | john conyers | payoffs | sexual harassment | slush fund

DeSantis Calls For Transparency Over Conyers Payments

(Fox News/Twitter)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 November 2017 01:58 PM

Rep. Ron DeSantis, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee with Rep. John Conyers, said Wednesday the claims being made about the Michigan lawmaker and the use of office budget money to pay a person complaining about sexual harassment are troubling.

"Obviously, we have had this news about secret settlements that have been done," the Florida Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom' co-anchor Sandra Smith. "There is a slush fund where tax dollars are covering for member misconduct. In Conyers' case, it didn't come out of that slush fund."

The office of Conyers, 88, of Michigan, reportedly paid a woman more than $27,000 to settle a woman's complaint of sexual harassment against him, settling a complaint in 2015 after she claimed she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances.

"He used his office budget to pay somebody who was a complainant of sexual harassment effectively $25,000 to camouflage it to look like that individual was being paid as a normal employee," DeSantis said Wednesday. "There are a lot of troubling issues both with the Conyers issue, and then in the broader question of how are our tax dollars being used to cover for private misconduct of congressmen and staffers?"

DeSantis plans to address such incidents through legislation, announcing earlier on Wednesday that he wants to unseal congressional records to prohibit taxpayer funds to cover for congressional misconduct.

He told Smith he does not know if the problem is bigger than people realize at this point.

"That's one of the reasons why we have to unseal these records," he said. "The American people need to know, why is their money being paid out for these settlements? It is not all sexual harassment. Other claims are made under this system. We need the transparency for that. I think that will be very good and we have to bar tax dollars going to pay for effectively private misconduct of members and staff. The taxpayers should not be on the hook for that."

Conyers has denied the allegations made against him, but said that his office resolved the allegations "'with an express denial of liability in order to save all involved from protracted litigation,'" Smith said, reading from a statement.

DeSantis said Conyers' use of office money to pay the complainant made it appear that his office was paying an employee, and "that was camouflage."

"It was not designated as any type of severance or settlement payment," DeSantis explained. "We have to address that as well. I don't think members should be able to camouflage payments. The slush fund and then the office budget that every member of Congress has, you need transparency in both of those."

He said he does think that it's "human nature" for Conyers to defend himself, and he should be given the opportunity. Conyers, though, has been in Congress more than 50 years, and DeSantis said he sees that as a problem.

"When people are effectively bulletproof and entrenched in power they are much more likely to do things that are not on the up and up," said DeSantis. "I think it's a walking advertisement for term limits for members of Congress."

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Rep. Ron DeSantis, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee with Rep. John Conyers, said Wednesday the claims being made about the Michigan lawmaker and the use of office budget money to pay a person complaining about sexual harassment are troubling.
ron desantis, john conyers, payoffs, sexual harassment, slush fund
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2017-58-22
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 01:58 PM
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