JULY 13, 2010
For nearly a decade and a half, U.S. taxpayers have annually dished out about $1 million to settle lawsuits against federal lawmakers accused of abusing or harassing staffers.
The money buys silence and quietly vanishes hundreds of complaints from congressional employees who have been sexually harassed or mistreated, according to a story in a political news publication. Records from the nonpartisan agency that administers a confidential dispute resolution system (Office of Compliance) reveal that around $1 million has gone out to the disgruntled congressional employees in each of the past 14 years.
2007 was especially bad, according to OOC records, because taxpayers doled out $4 million to settle 38 cases of wrongdoing against members of Congress. In 2009, 13 cases were settled for around $830,000. In most harassment cases, victimized staffers also get retroactive raises and vacation time for their pain and suffering.
For privacy reasons details of the negotiations, including victims’ names and the public servant harassers, are almost always kept secret. Lawmakers never pay a cent for the settlements, even when they are guilty of the workplace violations. Adding insult to injury, the public even picks up the tab for their often exorbitant legal fees.
This outrageous system has for years allowed members of Congress to secretly make disappear serious scandals as if they never existed. The lawyer who represented the aide that accused Montana Senator Max Baucus of sexual harassment points out that lawmakers are in a win-win situation. “It’s worth it to pay them, especially if it’s not their money…..”
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