The D.C. Swamp Just Keeps Stinking More

The D.C. Swamp Just Keeps Stinking More

Sexual abuse is a serious, devastating problem. Discrimination is a crime against fundamental human liberty. Neither can be tolerated in the workplace, our schools, or anywhere, for that matter.

But when we learn that Congress has, for more than two decades, maintained a secret slush fund from which to pay settlements to victims of sexual harassment or discrimination -- using our tax dollars, it is beyond belief...and beyond disgusting.

I get that public figures are sometimes the target of malicious accusations, and when those public figures are elected officials, the harm from such accusations can be severe.  BUT, that in no way excuses the politicians in Washington, D.C., from creating their own little secret way of making legitimate complaints and perhaps crimes “go away”.

With a 1995 law ironically called the Congressional Accountability Act, the politicians set up a process that was clearly intended to shield them from … accountability.

To file a complaint on Capitol Hill, a staffer first has to undergo “counseling”. Yes, the victim has to undergo counseling. Then she -- or he -- has to submit to a mandatory dispute resolution process. If, at the end of all that, a financial settlement is deemed appropriate, payment is made from our tax dollars, and of course, the settlement must be kept secret.

Give them credit. At least they can keep a secret, when doing so serves their own purposes. It took a flood of high-profile revelations about sexual abuse, harassment and assault in the worlds of entertainment and business to shine some light on Congress and make us aware of our lawmakers’ secret slush fund.

At least in the business, news and entertainment worlds, the abusers or their employers ultimately write the check for settlements with victims. But not in Congress. They make us write the check, and go to great lengths to be sure we never know about it.

Sexual abuse and harassment are deadly serious matters. Millions of individuals and families are touched by such crimes, including my own.

For too long, we have watched as our elected Representatives in Congress have eroded the standards to which leaders should be held. This one, however, is a new low.

Legislation has been introduced to make these Capitol Hill “settlements” public. That’s a start, but of course it didn’t happen until they got caught.

My question is: Where was the outrage for the past two decades? That is a question perhaps best put, for example, to a Representative who has been there for those two decades.

But when we learn that Congress has, for more than two decades, maintained a secret slush fund from which to pay settlements to victims of sexual harassment or discrimination -- using our tax dollars, it is beyond belief...and beyond disgusting.

I get that public figures are sometimes the target of malicious accusations, and when those public figures are elected officials, the harm from such accusations can be severe.  BUT, that in no way excuses the politicians in Washington, D.C., from creating their own little secret way of making legitimate complaints and perhaps crimes “go away”.

With a 1995 law ironically called the Congressional Accountability Act, the politicians set up a process that was clearly intended to shield them from … accountability.

To file a complaint on Capitol Hill, a staffer first has to undergo “counseling”. Yes, the victim has to undergo counseling. Then she -- or he -- has to submit to a mandatory dispute resolution process. If, at the end of all that, a financial settlement is deemed appropriate, payment is made from our tax dollars, and of course, the settlement must be kept secret.

Give them credit. At least they can keep a secret, when doing so serves their own purposes. It took a flood of high-profile revelations about sexual abuse, harassment and assault in the worlds of entertainment and business to shine some light on Congress and make us aware of our lawmakers’ secret slush fund.

At least in the business, news and entertainment worlds, the abusers or their employers ultimately write the check for settlements with victims. But not in Congress. They make us write the check, and go to great lengths to be sure we never know about it.

Sexual abuse and harassment are deadly serious matters. Millions of individuals and families are touched by such crimes, including my own.

For too long, we have watched as our elected Representatives in Congress have eroded the standards to which leaders should be held. This one, however, is a new low.

Legislation has been introduced to make these Capitol Hill “settlements” public. That’s a start, but of course it didn’t happen until they got caught.

My question is: Where was the outrage for the past two decades? That is a question perhaps best put, for example,  to a Representative who has been there for those two decades.

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