It was good to see Sen. Tim Kaine step into the brouhaha over House and Senate “naughty congressmen” slush funds and secret settlements being paid in sexual harassment complaint suits. That sort of transparency is what the voters should not only expect but absolutely deserve. In fact, in some dusty, old, obscure document, I believe some people cooked up a wild idea which said, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.”
Kaine made a compelling case, so now we should get the full list of complaints, including who was accused, how the matter was settled and any payments made to the accusers, right? As it turns out, not so much. The Senate Office of Compliance has responded to Kaine’s request, basically telling him to go pack sand. (Daily Beast)
A Capitol Hill watchdog that processes workplace sexual-harassment complaints in Congress has rejected a request to release data on the scale of complaints filed in the Senate, Politico reports. Sen. Tim Kaine had filed a request with the Office of Compliance this month, vowing to make public data on taxpayer-funded settlements over sexual-misconduct accusations in the upper chamber.
Kaine’s request came as Congress seeks to overhaul sexual-misconduct procedures and impose mandatory training following a spate of allegations against lawmakers. The compliance office shot down Kaine’s request Monday, however, citing “confidentiality provisions” in a 1995 law that established the workplace-misconduct system.
The office went on to say that it “does not possess reliable information regarding the number of sexual-harassment claims that have been filed or settled, the identities or positions of the individuals alleged to have committed sexual harassment, or why the parties reached settlements.”
So which is it? You “won’t” release the information because of privacy concerns or you “can’t” release it because you don’t have reliable data? Both of these answers sound like garbage, honestly. First of all, the only “privacy” you would be protecting is that of someone who was accused of very serious improprieties if not outright crimes and who holds a position of public trust. There’s no need to release the names of the victims if they don’t wish to go public. They could be treated as Jane Doe participants. (Or John Doe, to be fair.)
And what’s with the claim of not having reliable records? Don’t you keep a record of every investigation undertaken? And more to the point, if you paid out any taxpayer money in a settlement are you saying there’s no record of that? If you happened to catch that archaic sounding quote I included in the first paragraph you may know that it comes from Article I Section 9 of the United States Constitution. This really isn’t optional on your part. You have to record that.
This sounds every bit like a coverup even if it’s not and the senators need to find a way around this impasse. Of course, there are some of them who obviously wouldn’t want to find a resolution if their names are on the naughty list, but they should have known this was going to come out some day.