As a host of sexual assault allegations target major actors, producers and directors in Hollywood, several politicians are also being called out, and one congresswoman has claimed that the U.S. House of Representatives alone has spent $15 million in taxpayer funds to settle sexual misconduct lawsuits in the last decade.
The claim was made by Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, during an interview on Meet the Press Daily with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. When asked about the process sexual assault victims currently have to go through, Speier noted that they have to start by promising to stay silent.
“We really need to reform the entire Office of Compliance process,” Speier said. “Right now it takes about 90 days for you to file a complaint, and before actually going through the mediation, you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement and then you are not represented by counsel, but the harasser is represented by the House of Representatives general counsel.”
In many cases, as was seen with Harvey Weinstein, when ultra-rich and powerful individuals are accused of sexual assault, they respond by paying large sums of money to their victims, in exchange for an iron-clad, non-disclosure agreement.
However, while Hollywood moguls use their own money, Rep. Speier noted that politicians extort money from Americans in the form of taxes, and then use it to silence the victims they have sexually assaulted and harassed.
“I think moving forward we have got to take steps to make sure that there is transparency, that in fact the harasser is not going to have the settlement paid for out of the U.S. Treasury, and have all of the taxpayers paying for it. It should be something that is paid for by the individual,” Speier said.
In response, Todd said, “If the taxpayers are involved, don’t we have the right to know?”
“I think you do have the right to know,” Speier replied. “But right now, under the system, you don’t have a right to know.”
The congresswoman, who is a member of the House Intel Committee, then added that the sum of those taxpayer-funded settlements is not small, and has been building up over the last decade.
“We do know there is about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last ten to 15 years,” she said.
When Todd pressed for details, Rep. Speier said that she could not reveal how many members of Congress were involved, or who they were, because of the heavy non-disclosure agreements surrounding the cases.
One glaring example of a member of Congress who was both a rampant sexual predator and a pedophile, was former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Although he is an admitted child rapist, Hastert was instead sentenced to prison for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached. He was set free after just 15 months, and has since demanded that one of his victims return $1.7 million in hush money.
As The Free Thought Project reported, Speier is not the only one who has called out the corruption that runs rampant among the political elite. When women began to come out of the woodworks with sexual assault allegations against Weinstein in October, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney said, “We’re outraged and angry—not having had justice for at least a generation. Hollywood now; Washington, DC next.”