The People Have a Right to Know When Their Tax Money is Used for a Sexual Harassment Slush Fund, Says OTG
WASHINGTON – Open The Government, a leading advocate for transparency to promote government accountability, praised Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) today for calling on more “accountability” and “transparency” in dealing with sexual harassment in Congress.
“The American taxpayer should not have to spend their hard-earned money for a secretive Congressional sexual harassment slush fund,” said Open The Government Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “At the very least, the American taxpayer should be alerted when their money is siphoned off to pay for sexual harassment settlements and the member of Congress tapping the tax dollars should be named.”
On MSNBC’s MTP Daily, Host Chuck Todd asked Rep. Speier about the alleged cover-ups in Congress for sexual harassment. The Congresswoman made the stunning revelation that over the past 10-15 years, taxpayers have had to shell out $15 million to settle with victims, who are made to sign non-disclosure forms.
Todd asked Speier if taxpayers had the right to know about these settlements, and the Congresswoman replied:
“Well, I think you do have the right to know. But right now, under the system you don’t have a right to know. We do know that there is about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 15 years.”
Speier said that more accountability and transparency is needed to curtail the problem.
“I think moving forward we have got to take steps to make sure that there is transparency,” Speier told host, Chuck Todd. “That in fact, the harasser is not going to have the settlement paid for out of the U.S. Treasury and have all the taxpayers paying for it. It should be something that is paid for by the individual.”
Open The Government concurs, and believes that until there is more accountability and openness, the problem is unlikely to subside.
“We stand with Jackie Speier and thank her for her brave call for more transparency and accountability,” said OTG’s Lisa Rosenberg. “Congress should follow her lead and take immediate action to ensure the public trust is not exploited by members of Congress who are abusing their power to prey on women, while taxpayers are picking up the tab for their transgressions.”
Open The Government is a Washington-based non-partisan coalition of good-and-limited- government groups, environmentalists, journalists, library and consumer groups, labor, and others united to make the federal government a more open place in order to ensure integrity and accountability in the operation of our governing institutions, foster confidence in representative government, and support our democratic principles.
Contact: Wayne Besen, Communications Director