Blind item frenzy: Which congressmen are sexual assaulters?
At least two members of Congress have histories of sexually harassing female colleagues or staffers — but the pervs’ identities remain secret because of Congress’ way of handling such complaints.
“There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve who have been subject to review or not have been subject to review but have engaged in sexual harassment,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) claimed on Tuesday.
Speier didn’t name the creeps in testimony before the House Administration Committee. But she described a system that allows accused harassers to remain anonymous — and use taxpayer money for their defense and to pay off victims to keep them quiet.
Since recently sharing her own story of sexual harassment while a Capitol Hill staffer, Speier, 67, said many women have confided their own experiences to her.
Harassment includes everything from asking, “Are you going to be a good girl?” to perps “exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor,” Speier said.
In even more shocking testimony, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said a young female staffer recently went to a current lawmaker’s house to deliver documents.
She was “greeted with the member in a towel . . . who then invited her in,” Comstock told the committee, in an apparent description of a third member of Congress. “At that point, he decided to expose himself. She left and then quit her job.”
Meanwhile, CNN said sexual harassment is so common in DC that women share an unwritten “creep list” of male lawmakers to avoid.
More than 1,500 former Hill staffers signed a petition urging the House and Senate to put in place mandatory sexual-harassment training.
“All they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in hostile-free work environment,” Speier said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called for mandated training.
“Going forward, the House will adopt a policy of mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and staff,” he said.
Currently, accused lawmakers get legal counsel at taxpayers’ expense while the accuser does not. The victim must attend counseling and is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement before mediation begins, Speier said.
“The present system may have been OK in the Dark Ages. It is not appropriate in the 21st century,” she told the committee.
“For the few survivors who secure a settlement, there is no disclosure of the [congressman] involved or the amount of funds.
“The taxpayers foot the bill, the harasser goes on with his or her life. There is zero accountability and zero transparency.”
Speier later told MSNBC that $15 million in hush money has been paid by the House to accusers of sex harassment over the past 10 to 15 years.
A rep for Speier said the victims of the two sitting lawmakers did not want her to name their abusers. “The victims asked her not to do so because they are at the mercy of nondisclosure agreements in perpetuity,” the representative said.
SPEAKING UP: Rep. Jackie Speier vents on Tuesday at the Capitol.