Currently, the latest politician to be caught in sexual misconduct accusations is the highest ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and Dean of the House: Democrat John Conyers from Michigan. As a result, the House Ethics Committee has opened up an investigation into Conyers. According to Buzzfeed, the allegations include a female staffer recalling a time when
“Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to ‘touch it’, in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.”
One woman had launched a complaint against Conyers with the Office of Compliance in 2014 claiming she was fired for refusing Conyers’ sexual advances. She eventually settled for $27,000, the money for which came out of Conyers’ office budget, not the designated settlement fund.
That fund has been the subject of much conversation recently. Since 1997, Congress has paid out $17 million in settlement claims. However, it would not be accurate to say that the fund only deals with settlements dealing with sexual harassment. In fact, most of this fund does not.
If what Conyers is alleged to have done is true, he is just as worthy of expulsion as Roy Moore would be, should he win in Alabama. The taxpayers of this country should not have to pay for his bad behavior. If this is true, he should be expelled for not only sexual harassment, but misuse of taxpayer funds.
As for the House as a whole, according to Politico
“The compliance office also approves pending harassment settlements, which it then releases in broad totals that do not break down which Hill employer or which type of workplace conduct is involved.”
Translated into English, it is almost impossible, given the current system, to determine how much taxpayer money is going to fund some congressman’s sexual harassment settlement claim. Also, built into the system is the fact that the identities of those who reach settlements are not disclosed, meaning those who sexually harass go unnamed.
Being willing to expel Conyers for misuse of taxpayer money would hopefully lower the incentive for congressmen to use their office budget to cover the expense of paying the settlement as an end run around any new standard the House may enact in light of recent developments. Florida Representative, Ron DeSantis, is also drafting legislation to end the practice of taxpayer-funded settlements and the sort of cover-up schemes Conyers used by using his office’s budget. DeSantis’ bill would also unseal the settlement records.
Taxpayers deserve to know why their tax dollars are going to subsidize somebody else’s sexual harassment settlement; whether that money be given through a settlement fund or a congressman’s office. Nobody else gets to have a pool of taxpayer money to pay for their misdeeds. Congress owes the taxpayers of this country an explanation and an answer as to just how much of their hard-earned money has gone to subsidize sexual creeps.