Kaine calls on Senate to publicly release sexual harassment claims

Kaine calls on Senate to publicly release sexual harassment claims
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Sen. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineDemocrats turn on Al Franken Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D-Va.) is asking the Senate to turn over information about the number of sexual harassment claims and settlements against upper chamber members and their staffers in a letter sent the same day Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (D-Minn.) announced his resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee told the Senate Office of Compliance — the office tasked with handling congressional workplace complaints — that "in the interest of transparency," he plans to release the data.

"I plan to publicly disclose this information because I believe it will provide some insight into the scope of the problem and help determine solutions for preventing and addressing future incidents," Kaine wrote.

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Kaine added that he will not release information that would "breach any confidentiality agreement between the parties or the identities of the survivors and the accused."

The Virginia senator argued that the problem will continue to persist in the congressional hallways if information about sexual misconduct continues to be held behind lock and key.

“This pervasive problem continues to serve as a barrier to ensure true gender equality. At a more personal level, it signals the failure of our society to guarantee even the basic safety and dignity of our colleagues, classmates, friends, family, and neighbors,” Kaine wrote in a statement on Thursday.

“Indeed, how we respond establishes the standard for others. A lax or indifferent response, marked only by symbolic changes, signals that we consider the issue a low priority. But a strong response that seeks to establish true accountability will hopefully encourage others to follow,” he continued.

Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), the top members of the Senate Ethics Committee, also asked the Office of Compliance on Friday to turn over any information on sexual harassment allegations involving current members of Congress. The Senate panel is looking into allegations against Franken.

The House Ethics Committee also sent a similar letter to the office on Friday.

The calls come after the Office of Compliance released data that showed more than $17 million in taxpayer funds went toward paying settlements involving Capitol Hill employees, which include a range of workplace violations like allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

They also come as two high-profile congressional Democrats — Franken and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersAbortion-rights group endorses Nadler in race to replace Conyers on Judiciary Democrats turn on Al Franken Michigan state senator to run for Congress MORE Jr. (Mich.) — announced their resignations this week amid allegations of sexual misconduct.