The newly released data includes nearly $600,000 for claims involving “member-led” offices
Here are your tax dollars at work.
The Treasury Department has shelled out nearly $1.5 million to settle Senate “harassment” and workplace misconduct claims over the past two decades — including nearly $600,000 for claims involving “member-led” offices, an administrative committee announced in a release Thursday night.
The 13 settlements since 1997 involving senators’ offices totaled $599,252, including one $14,260 claim of sex discrimination, the sparse Office of Compliance data released by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration showed. The remaining 10 settlements involving “other” Senate employing offices totaled $853,225.
The descriptions of each settlement, spanning age, race, sex and disability discrimination and “reprisal,” bore little detail. The heftiest sum: $421,225 for a “race discrimination and reprisal” claim against one of the “other” offices. Four claims, only one from a senator’s office, related to sex discrimination.
Per the Senate Legal Counsel, this disclosure didn’t violate confidentiality rules, rules committee chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said in a statement. “Harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated under any circumstances, but particularly not in the United States Senate,” he said. “While the Rules Committee has been eager to provide this information in a transparent manner, it has been our priority to protect the victims involved in these settlements from further harm.”
Data released days earlier showed more than $342,000 in settlements involving House members’ offices from 2008 to 2012, including more than $174,000 for claims involving sex discrimination. The disclosures didn’t include possible settlement money from members’ office budgets; for example, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) retired this month after the revelation his office had paid $27,000 to settle an ex-aide’s sexual harassment claim.
Congress has been roiled by misconduct allegations in recent months as the national conversation on sex harassment and assault only intensifies. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), both accused of harassment, have announced their resignations. Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, subject of a recently expanded ethics committee probe over harassment allegations, said this month he would retire.
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