A top congressional democrat used $27,000 in taxpayer funding to pay a female staffer, after he allegedly fired her because she would "not succumb to his sexual advances."
Famed congressman Michigan Rep. John Conyers is described in a new report as a serial sexual harasser. He would allegedly prey on female staffers, according to sworn affidavits signed by numerous former staffers.
Buzzfeed News first broke the story:
Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.
The bombshell revelations come on the heels of a report by the Washington Post last week, which revealed that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for nearly 300 settlements with federal employees over two decades for violations including sexual harassment.
When the settlement money is paid out, the accusers sign an agreement in which they vow to stay silent about the events.
The settlement given to Conyers' accuser, however, was paid out from the congressman's office rather than the "designated fund" for settlements.
Many are likely wondering:
Why is there a taxpayer-subsidized designated fund for such settlements in the first place?!
Taxpayers have been unknowingly footing hush money bills for decades, yet the identity of the abusers in Congress often remains secret to the public.
As fresh allegations of sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill seem to surface every week, decades-old alleged abusers are being exposed for the first time. It has become clear that sexual harassment and misconduct is a bigger problem than taxpaying Americans were previously aware of — and they've been helping to fund the culture for years without even knowing it.
This could very well be one of the biggest political scandals of the decade.