The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the right of all people to be free from sexual assault. A few weeks ago several women were paraded before Americans with claims that Judge Roy Moore made improper sexual advances to them when they were teenagers. Most, if not all, of the claims are questioned more and more as time goes past, and Moore is gaining in the polls.
Since the claims against Moore were brought, numerous other men are facing charges that they made sexual advances. These men include Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, news anchor Charlie Rose, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) (the longest-serving member of Congress), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota). They seem to be falling like Dominoes with new names being added to the list daily – or so it seems.
Amidst all the discussion about Conyers and Franken, a big secret came to light. It seems that lawmakers secretly created a mysterious slush fund from which to settle any accusations against lawmakers. The Daily Signal reports on the current status of the problem in Congress.
In the event of a monetary settlement of sexual harassment complaints, members of Congress can draw on a taxpayer-funded account set up within the Treasury Department to cover their legal expenses and settle cases.
The account has paid out $17 million in the past 10 years, public records show, although it is not clear how much of that was for cases of sexual harassment.
Lest there be any doubt about the source of the money, let me repeat that this is a “taxpayer-funded account.” In other words, taxpayers are paying the cost of settling any accusations against members of Congress. Why? It is happening because legislators were able to get away with it. However, times may be changing.
Various people and organizations are calling for an investigation into where the $17 million went and why. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution requiring training on sexual harassment for senators and their staff, and the U.S. House of Representatives will most likely follow suit.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Virginia) sponsored the resolution in the house. It would require “all House members, officers, employees, including interns, detailees, and fellows” to complete “anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training” during each annual session of Congress. Comstock also wants to prevent the use of taxpayer funds to cover lawmakers’ expenses for sexual harassment.