Democratic Congresswoman Alleges Two Sitting Lawmakers Have 'Engaged In Sexual Harassment'

Sergio Conner
November 14, 2017

During testimony before the Committee on House Administration on Tuesday, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) stated there are two current members of Congress, one Republican, and one Democrat who have sexually harassed people.

Comstock told the story involving the unidentified congressman at a hearing on preventing sexual harassment in Congress, saying she doesn't know who the member is but heard the story from a trustworthy source. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA)-alleged that multiple male lawmakers now serving in Congress stand accused of inappropriate sexual conduct, but neither named names. She shared a story of a male lawmaker - still in Congress - who asked a young female staffer to bring materials to his residence. After greeting her in a towel, Comstock said the congressman invited the staffer inside and allegedly exposed himself.

"But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

Since recently sharing her own story of sexual harassment while a Hill staffer, Speier said many women have confided their own stores.

Speier listed a host of accusations she has heard this year, including interns getting propositioned for sex and "victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor". Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez and former Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis of California also disclosed that they had been sexually harassed by fellow lawmakers, AP reports. Once those 90 days are up, the victim can then file a formal complaint.

Since then, Sanchez told reporters, she's advised newer members to do the same. "You can see a pattern; when it's happening to you, you don't have the benefit of the 30,000 foot view".

In recent weeks, several female lawmakers have spoken openly about harassment they faced from male lawmakers.

On Nov. 14, over 50 sources who now or previously worked in Congress said that they had experienced sexual harassment or knew someone who had been harassed.

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Yet she acknowledged it's hard to hold harassers accountable to their constituents if no one will name them publicly. "There's 'did I ask for it?'"

"It is like, the place where complaints go to die", the former staffer said.

Such settlements are paid out by a fund operated by the Treasury Department. As Republicans distance themselves from Moore, lawmakers in the House and Senate are working to address sexual misconduct in the Congressional workplace.

Byrne also called for requiring members accused of harassment to reimburse the Treasury for settlement payments and strictly prohibiting them from pursuing sexual relationships with staffers. The Senate passed legislation last week to require training, and it is pending in the House. The House is expected to follow suit, possibly with legislation introduced by Speier earlier this month.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) noted that "sexual harassment is a serious problem in our society and Congress is not immune from this issue". "Sexual harassment is about power, not just sex", she said.

Noting the Weinstein scandal and how it started the #MeToo movement, Comstock said that in Congress, "We need to make it easier for the victims to come forward".

"It is a man's world, it's still a man's world", Bono said of the environment in Congress.

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