Ethics panel asks for details of past harassment cases against serving lawmakers
The House Ethics Committee is asking the office tasked with handling workplace complaints on Capitol Hill to turn over records about allegations against current lawmakers and staff.
In a letter from Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.), on Friday, the Ethics Committee requested “all records in the possession of the Office of Compliance related to any claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation or any other employment practice” involving current lawmakers and House employees.
The letter noted that the Congressional Accountability Act, which establishes Capitol Hill’s workplace policies, “expressly provides” that the Office of Compliance provide the House and Senate Ethics committees with access to records of its hearings and decisions.
The Office of Compliance recently released data showing that more than $17 million in taxpayer dollars has been paid out in settlements involving Capitol Hill employees. That total includes allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other workplace violations.
House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) told Republicans at a conference meeting Friday that he will provide more detailed information about taxpayer money paid in settlements regarding sexual harassment claims, according to lawmakers in the room.
The House Ethics Committee is already investigating sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). BuzzFeed reported that Conyers had agreed to settle a wrongful dismissal claim from a former female staffer who alleged she was fired because she resisted his sexual advances.
The staffer was paid more than $27,000 out of Conyers’s office budget in the form of severance payments.
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