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City County Observer: Messer Calls on Senate to Release Sexual Harassment Payouts

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) today called on the U.S. Senate to publicly release information about tax dollars used to settle sexual harassment claims against members of the Senate.

Politico reported yesterday that while the House has release its settlement totals going back a decade, the Senate is refusing to do so.

“The Senate should not shield its members from the consequences of their own actions,” Messer said. “It was never OK that taxpayer dollars were used to settle harassment claims against members of Congress, and we need to get to the bottom of it. The Senate should immediately release this information to taxpayers, empower the victims and make sure it does not happen again.”

The Committee on House Administration recently disclosed that more than $340,000 in taxpayer funds was used to settle sexual harassment and discrimination claims against House members going back to fiscal year 2008. This disclosure followed an Associated Press report that the government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to settle sexual harassment claims and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.

In November, Messer filed legislation that would stop this taxpayer-funded slush fund, and ensure victims of harassment by members of Congress aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements.

The bipartisan Empowering Victims of Sexual Misconduct Act would release Congressional staff from current non-disclosure agreements signed as part of a sexual assault settlement with a Member of Congress, and prohibit non-disclosure agreements like this in the future. It would also prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims by a member of Congress or employee of the House or Senate. Additionally, the bill would require members who used taxpayer dollars to settle a previous claim to fully reimburse the U.S. Treasury out of their own pocket.