The sex scandals erupting all over the nation have involved both political parties. Al Franken, Roy Moore, and John Conyers have dominated the headlines. And then a little-known Treasury Department “shush fund” was revealed, apparently created by the congressional Office of Compliance (OOC), to help silence accusers of sexual predators who also happen to be career politicians.
Yes, you read that correctly: the government used tax payer money to silence victims of sexual abuse. And even worse, Texas Republican Blake Farenthold used $84,000 in taxpayer dollars to pay off a former aide who’d sued him for sexual harassment back in 2014. Why are we only now finding out about this? Do American taxpayers really want to be on the hook for this sort of behavior?
Finally, after months of dodging questions about whether he would resign, Farenthold has announced he’s going to step down. This didn’t seem like an act made of honor, but rather one that came after an ethics inquiry was opened into the matter.
Either way, I’m fine with that. Good riddance.
“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” Farenthold said in a statement according to Politico.
Here are more details about the pay off:
The congressman’s former communications director, Lauren Greene, accused him of making sexually charged comments designed to gauge whether she was interested in a sexual relationship. She filed suit in after going through the OOC’s counseling and mediation process. Farenthold denied wrongdoing in the case.
The revelation sheds new light on the secretive process that lawmakers use to settle workplace complaints against them and their aides using public funds. In total, the Treasury fund has paid for settlements related to six claims against House members’ offices since 2013, the OOC wrote in a letter Friday to the Committee on House Administration. The five complaints not pertaining to sexual harassment alleged one or more forms of employment discrimination and in some cases, retaliation, the letter stated.
So, is anyone else furious that such a fund exists? And should the government so strongly assume the presence of sexual intimidation and predatory behavior that it has its own cushy fund to keep it all quiet?
There’s a lot of secrecy around this. “Members such as Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) have used their office budgets to settle — and conceal — complaints. Settlements reached using this method are not tracked, and they are difficult to identify, even in congressional offices’ payment records.”
If 2017 and 2018 have taught us anything, it’s that sexual scandals eventually see the light of day. Both parties need to come clean and to make it stop. Here’s a secret, politicians — none of you are that important… and taxpayers are sick and tired of funding your misdeeds.
It’s way past time to stop elevating politicians and to restore accountability to the American people. Farenthold’s resignation is a step in the right direction.
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Hat Tip: Washington Post