Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid

Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerRepublicans, Democrats offer support after John Lewis cancer diagnosis House GOP vows to use impeachment to cut into Democratic majority A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill MORE (R-N.C.) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would prevent former members of Congress from lobbying the House or Senate under certain circumstances.

The bill would specifically prevent former lawmakers from engaging in lobbying if they have used taxpayer money to pay for sexual harassment settlements but failed to repay the money before leaving Congress.

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The bill, of which the Huffington Post got an advance copy, is called the Bad Lawmakers Accountability and Key Emends (BLAKE) Act, named after former Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas).

Farenthold gained notoriety after it was revealed last year he spent $84,000 in taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual misconduct claim brought by his former communications director. He declined to pay the money back and worked for a time lobbying Congress. 

Though the bill would not apply retroactively, Walker intends to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (D-Calif.) asking them to refuse to meet with Farenthold and other former members to which the bill would have applied.

Walker’s Washington office was closed due to inclement weather and not available for comment.

Congress revamped its sexual harassment policy in December and now requires members to use personal funds to pay for sexual misconduct settlements.

However, lawmakers can still tap into a taxpayer funded account to make initial payments and then reimburse the funds.

Walker’s bill would not change that practice, but would bar any member who failed to pay the money back from lobbying Congress in the future.

“It’s an abuse of power to use taxpayer funds to basically cover up their actions and then leave and make a profit off their time in Congress,” Walker told the Huffington Post. “There is a fundamental problem with that concept.”

“I think Washington needs to take the lead in cleaning up its act,” he added. “This is one step in being able to move forward to say, listen, we need to be governing our own selves and not just the people of the United States.” 

Walker said he does not yet have any cosponsors for the bill.