Lawmakers have carte blanche to cut secret harassment settlements

Now Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a vocal advocate for reform of Capitol Hill’s secretive system for handling workplace harassment, is calling out the lack of policing of the secret one-off settlements. She wants the House ethics committee to state definitively whether the chamber will allow more Conyers-style settlements.

The ethics panel “currently has no clear position on whether these payments are indeed impermissible,” Speier told the committee’s leaders in a Thursday letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

Allowing lawmakers use their office’s budgets “to avoid public disclosure of wrongdoing only serves to enable the evasion of accountability,” Speier wrote, adding that she knows of one member who used the Conyers-style maneuver to settle a misconduct case earlier this year.