Tags: congressional accountability act | harassment | speier | gillibrand

How Taxpayers Subsidize Sexual Harassment in Washington

How Taxpayers Subsidize Sexual Harassment in Washington

A view of the U.S. Capitol is seen on August 15, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By with Michael R. Shannon
Tuesday, 20 August 2019 10:59 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Congress may miss the warning signs of most impending crises, but where politicians are personally concerned our legislative betters are farseeing indeed. USA Today reminds us that way back in 1995 Congress passed a law called the Congressional Accountability Act.

As with many other laws passed by Congress, the effect of the law is exactly opposite of what the title promises. Instead of “[making] lawmakers subject to the same workplace laws against harassment and discrimination as the rest of American employers,” the bill seems designed to protect handsy male politicians from public exposure at the expense of victims and taxpayers.

Since the law was passed in 1995 and through 2016, there have been 256 settlements with awards that totaled $17 million. Once you get past the sexual abuse, the worst part is taxpayers have no idea who the offender was. The reason? Voters would no doubt be much less likely to re-elect a politician that abused woman and cost them money.

The number of settlements and the amount paid are probably low because the law appears to be designed to discourage accountability. USA Today observed, “For complainants, the act set up an arrangement so cumbersome that it seems designed less to protect wronged workers than to insulate lawmakers from public embarrassment.”

Filing a harassment complaint involves a complicated 90-day purgatory where the victim is still working in the same office with the alleged harasser or is in the same building.

The first step is counseling. If you thought the counseling sessions were for the abuser that only marks you as some sort of rube voter. No, the victim has to endure the counselling while the abuser goes about his business. Failure to observe every little jot or tittle of the law “may jeopardize any claims raised.”

We agree with America’s favorite hotel newspaper, “Such secrecy is a betrayal of the public trust and the whole notion that government works in public. Nor should Capitol Hill be a place that tolerates crude and ugly mistreatment of women.”

There is currently a proposed law from Rep. Jackie Speier in the House and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate that would “make the complaint process less cumbersome for workers, get rid of required secrecy, and mandate that any lawmaker who settles a claim as a harasser repay the U.S. Treasury out of his or her own pocket.”

We think this is one of the few legislative ideas from the Democrat Party that deserves support from voters. We are realistic enough to know chances for passage are slim and none, but we do urge readers to attend the next townhall sponsored by your representatives and ask if they will vote yes or no on the Speier–Gillibrand reform bill.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

   
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Congress may miss the warning signs of most impending crises, but where politicians are personally concerned our legislative betters are farseeing indeed. USA Today reminds us that way back in 1995 Congress passed a law called the Congressional Accountability Act.
congressional accountability act, harassment, speier, gillibrand
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2019-59-20
Tuesday, 20 August 2019 10:59 AM
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