Female lawmakers allege harassment by colleagues in House

Largely untold before now is that some female lawmakers themselves say they have been harassed by male colleagues. While rare, the accounts raise troubling questions about the boys’ club environment in Congress where male lawmakers can feel empowered to target not only staffers but even their own peers.

The lawmakers declined to identify the perpetrators by name, but at least two of the men continue to serve in the House. None of the female lawmakers interviewed reported what happened, and some noted it was not clear where they would lodge such a complaint. At least three of the four told friends or aides about the incidents, which in some cases were witnessed by other lawmakers.

“When I was a very new member of Congress in my early 30s, there was a more senior member who outright propositioned me, who was married, and despite trying to laugh it off and brush it aside it, would repeat. And I would avoid that member,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. She added that she would warn other new female members about the lawmaker in question, but she declined to identify him, while saying he remains in Congress.