Common Cause Calls for Full Disclosure of Congressional Slush Funds and Shady Deals Used to Hide Sexual Harassment & Other Abuses

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  • David Vance

Today, Common Cause called on Congress to pass legislation to close the loopholes and disclose settlements that have allowed Members to hide sexual harassment and other abuses for decades. A series of high profile cases involving abuse by Members has brought to light the slush funds and secretive negotiations that have allowed abusers to remain on the job.

“Americans have a right to know how Congress is spending their tax dollars, and this hush money used to hide deplorable conduct by Members and their staffs is no exception,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “These slush funds, as well as office funds, have been used for far too long as hush money, and they have allowed sexual predators to remain in office. Congressional complicity in these abhorrent acts must stop, and taxpayers deserve the transparency that ensures they know that complicity has ceased.”

The letter called for House Members to support legislation that would prohibit congressional offices from using Members’ Representational Allowances (MRAs), the Office of Compliance, the House Employment Counsel, or any other “hush fund” to pay for sexual harassment settlements. In the short term, Common Cause urged Speaker Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the Committee on House Administration to publicly disclose the names of Members of Congress and congressional staff who have used their offices’ MRA or any other account to pay sexual harassment or misconduct settlements.

The letter emphasized that the identities of victims must be protected, unless they decide to reveal their names. The letter deemed the resolution being considered today to require all Members and staff to undergo sexual harassment training a step in the right direction, but not a solution to the problem.

Common Cause plans to urge the Senate to pursue similar legislation to address its own workplace abuses. The letter also emphasizes that if congressional budgets were more transparent, heightened attention to harassment and misconduct settlements may have helped prevent some of these heinous acts.

To read the letter, click here.