Shortly after it was learned that U.S. Representative John Conyers (D) apparently used taxpayer dollars to settle a 2015 sexual harassment claim against him by one of his former staffers, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) has announced that he will be filing legislation that will bring “transparency to the congressional claims process and to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to pay harassment claims,” this according to a legislative office press release.
The potential bill would also force any member of Congress or congressional employee named in a settlement paid out from taxpayer dollars, to pay back those monies to the taxpayer.
The press release reads:
In an effort to restore accountability, DeSantis’ legislation will make public all payments funded by taxpayers, including the nature of the initial allegation and the member of Congress implicated, bar the use of any tax dollars to be used to settle sexual harassment claims where the plaintiff is a member of Congress or an employee of the House or Senate, and require that any member of Congress named in a settlement paid for by taxpayers reimburse the American people.
“Settlements paid with tax dollars should not be kept secret. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent,” DeSantis said. “Furthermore, members of Congress cannot be allowed to use the American people’s money as a personal slushfund to cover wrongdoing. I’m working on legislation to unseal the settlement records, bar the use of tax dollars to pay harassment claims against members and staff, prohibit members from using their office budgets to camouflage settlement payments (a Conyers rule), and require reimbursement of the taxpayer by members and staff who have had settlements paid due to their misconduct.”-Rep.Ron DeSantis
As for Rep. Conyers, he is vehemently denying all sexual harassment allegations made against him even though there are three notarized affidavits from his former aides alleging “sexual advances” made to female staffers.
Conyers did however confirm that his office paid an unnamed staffer $27,000 for her allegation that he fired her because she did not take the congressman up on sexual advances.
“My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.”-Rep. John Conyers (D)