Much has been made about contracts President Trump entered into with sexual partners that were supposed to buy their silence. We saw how well that worked. Meanwhile Congress had a slush fund used to pay off sexual harassment claims and other matters dealing with misbehavior on the part of Congressmen. That fund was paid for by taxpayers.
The Daily Wire reported yesterday that the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill yesterday (by unanimous consent) that will require Congressmen to pay out of pocket for settlements with former staffers and aides who accuse them of sexual misconduct and will not be allowed to rely on taxpayer money to defend themselves in lawsuits brought by former colleagues.
The article reports:
The Huffington Post reports that the bill goes a bit further than just limiting cash flow, reforming a grievance reporting system mired in the 1990s: “Under the current law, which has been in place since 1995, Capitol Hill staffers who claim they’ve been harassed or discriminated against have to undergo counseling, mandatory arbitration and a 30-day ‘cooling off’ period before going to court. They won’t have to do any of that anymore.”
The bill doesn’t accomplish everything Speier [Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)] set out to do. The provisions within the bill are limited to sexual harassment claims and sexual misconduct claims only — not claims of discrimination, even if those claims are sexual in nature. The bill also does not provide representation to alleged victims free of charge. Although those two requests were in the House version of the bill, Senate leadership encouraged the bill’s authors to pursue those objectives in separate legislation.
This is a mixed victory. One aspect of being in the public eye is that you are vulnerable to false claims made by people seeking money. In corporations, the corporations simply pay the ‘victim’ without confirming the charges because in the long run that is cheaper and easier. One example that comes to mind is a company in Massachusetts that awarded a large settlement to an employee who claimed sexual harassment. The company paid the claim despite the fact that the employee had lived with the person she made the charges against and actually had two children with him. Rather than debate the circumstances, the company paid. Not all charges against Congressmen are valid, and it is actually easier (and probably cheaper) to pay all of them. This may not actually be a step forward.