Congress Aims to End Taxpayer-Funded Sexual Harassment Settlements

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 08:02:50 AM. The use of taxpayer funds for settlements of sexual harassment cases is sought to be outlawed by Congressional acts, according to The Hill.

Lawmakers in Congress are working to ban the use of taxpayer funds for settlements of sexual harassment cases, after reports that lawmakers have paid more than $100,000 in recent cases, according to The Hill.

Congressmen that have issued payments include Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and former Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y.

A female former aide accused Farenthold of harassment in 2014, and an $84,000 settlement was reached. Farenthold announced Monday on KRIS-TV he would pay back the money.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced legislation requiring lawmakers to reimburse taxpayers for harassment settlements. Other lawmakers have also introduced similar legislation, including Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., whose bill would ban the taxpayer funds from being used, and would also require ethics committees to consider expelling lawmakers who engage in sexual harassment, The Hill reported.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., introduced a bill that would also ban taxpayer money use in the harassment settlements, and would prohibit nondisclosure agreements from being included in settlements, according to The Hill.

DeSantis said he believed those in senior positions are most likely to commit sexual misconduct.

"If we unveil these claims, I think you'll find that some of the offenders are not some legislative correspondent," DeSantis said in The Hill's report. "It's going to be mostly chiefs of staff, and people who have authority. I mean, that's why they're doing this."

Lawmakers do not have to be concerned about reimbursing taxpayers if they do not commit sexual harassment, Speier has said, according to The Hill.

Speier addressed sexual harassment issues in a Wednesday interview with Time.

"We say we have zero tolerance for that, but what does zero tolerance mean. . . . They're meaningless words if you're not willing to say, 'We're not going to allow this to go on here,'" Speier said in the Time interview.

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