Here’s a bombshell that’s going to rock Washington, and the country: There are at least another 30 members of congress implicated in sexual harassment scandals, and about twenty are likely to resign after January 1st.
The Washington Post has the names of the implicated members and is working on a story now. Other newspapers and media outlets are working on related stories, but apparently only the Post has the full list.
The newspaper likely obtained it from one or both House leaders, Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Nancy Pelosi. These two widely loathed figures are apparently seeking to crash manage the looming PR catastrophe for congress, whose job approval rating is already in the low-teens.
I discussed this bombshell with Tom Anderson, a Friend of Washington Babylon and occasional contributor, on our site’s podcast. It was recorded last night and will post later today, and you’re definitely going to want to listen to all of it.
We don’t have the list of names or a partisan breakdown of the sleazy members who are about to be outed, but we’re talking about roughly 7.5 percent of congress.
What’s particularly disgusting about this is that members of congress have been using taxpayer money from the Congressional Office of Compliance to pay off their victims. Then they use campaign money or other political funds to pay for their legal defense. (The Office of Compliance, whose affairs are secret, has doled out nearly $20 million in settlement claims over the past two decades, with much of it being used to cover up sexual-harassment claims against unnamed members of Congress.)
As Tom noted during our conversation, this is an incentive to further misconduct and criminality. To use an analogy, the “common” person who gets ticketed and fined for speeding through a school zone slows down next time they drive through it. Under the current revolting political arrangements, members of congress speeding through a school zone probably don’t get ticketed and if they do, the fine gets paid with public money.
Why slow down? Next time they’re likely to tear through the school zone faster and maybe kill a few kids. But, hey, no problem!
One person who is likely on the list of 30 (or more, god willing) is New York Democrat Gregory Meeks. The New York Post recently reported that this long-time bucket of sleaze tapped the Congressional Office of Compliance to settle “a lawsuit brought by a female staffer who said that he fired her after she sued one of his donors for sexual harassment, according to court papers.”
Here’s an excerpt:
In March 2006, the fund paid an undisclosed settlement in a lawsuit brought by Andrea Payne, a congressional aide in Meeks’ office from 1998 to 2000.
Payne had filed a separate lawsuit against Flowers Physical Therapy, a clinic run by Joan and Neville Flowers in Queens, alleging that a massage therapist in their office had sexually abused her. The couple are longtime campaign donors and fundraisers for the Congressman.
After she filed the lawsuit in May 2000, Payne said that she was forced to work overtime without compensation and was not reimbursed for work-related expenses, court papers say. She was also subjected to “verbally abusive language” in the Congressman’s district office, according to court filings.
Meeks fired Payne in October 2000. The Congressman later said that she had resigned, making it impossible for Payne to collect unemployment benefits from New York State, court papers say.
Payne, who complained to the Congressional Office of Compliance, sued Meeks in federal court in 2001, and the case was settled five years later.
Meeks will probably not have to resign because he runs his district like a feudal lord with unchecked power. Only public outrage might force this dirtbag out of office.
Meanwhile, look for the Post‘s upcoming story, but remember, you read it here first.