A bill now being considered in the House of Representatives will out members of Congress who have used taxpayer money to settle accusations of sexual harassment. The bipartisan bill was introduced on Wednesday. Co-sponsor Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said on Fox News on Thursday that she felt “completely disgusted” when she learned of the hush fund. The bill is the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is a co-sponsor. She said that she and her colleagues will release the names of members of Congress who have made taxpayer-funded payouts.
The Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in sponsoring the bill are Reps. Cheri Bustos (Illinois), Kathleen Rice (New York) and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii). “For too long survivors of sexual harassment and assault have been isolated, shamed, and bullied into silence, while their abusers walk away scot-free with the privilege of anonymity and with no personal or financial accountability," Gabbard said from the House floor.
“Congress needs to act now to end the practice of taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements, expose perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault, and provide a fair and transparent path to justice for survivors. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable. It has no place in Congress or in our society. It must end."
Using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims against members of Congress is disgusting. We're going to release the names of those who used this hush fund, and these individuals will pay this money back to the American people with interest. https://t.co/Wloe8uw0QT— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) November 30, 2017
Blackburn said that the time has come to "bring some sunshine [and] accountability" to the issue, Blackburn said. "Let's end this practice [of] personal bailouts." She added, "... Those who have used this money – taxpayer dollars – to pay these settlements and claims, they need to pay that money back, with interest." Blackburn announced recently that she will campaign next year for the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) made waves in Washington recently with testimony that there were at least two members of Congress who have committed sexual improprieties. Spier said, "There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat – right now, who serve – who have engaged in sexual harassment."
Since then, two Democrats and one Republican have been out. Over the last 20 years, about $17 million have reportedly been paid out in employees’ claims against members of Congress. Others may soon be unmasked.
Among those members of Congress accused of sexual improprieties and Congressional pay-outs is Rep. John Conyers (D) of Michigan. Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called on him to resign, as have other members of Congress.
AFA Action spokesman Rob Chambers made a statement saying that citizens want Congress to name names, and how much was paid out and for what reasons. “These funds don't come from the congressman's or congresswoman's particular account – these funds come from the U.S. Treasury," he said. "We're asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to release the names of those members of both the Senate and House who have used federal funds to pay for settlement charges," said Chambers. "We're also asking for these two leaders in the House and Senate to make known the amount that they settled for – and I think they ought to pay the money back with interest."