Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Oh, yeah, there’s also the Clinton matter

I feel the need to launch a bit of a preemptive strike at those who are inclined to take issue with an earlier item I posted on High Plains Blogger.

It wonders whether Donald John Trump should consider resigning the presidency in the wake of resignations of three key members of Congress: Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers and Republican Rep. Trent Franks — all of whom quit over allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Critics of this blog might be inclined to remind me that President Bill Clinton should have quit, too, when allegations surfaced about women with whom he had sexual relations. One woman accused him of rape; another accused him of sexual harassment; yet another was revealed to have engaged in some dalliance with the president while she was working as a White House intern.

I’ll answer any such response this way: President Clinton went through a serious round of “due process.”

The House of Representatives impeached him for lying to a grand jury about his relationship with the White House intern. Republicans who ran the House at the time were looking for a reason to impeach Clinton; the president gave them one by lying under oath.

Then came the trial in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senators heard the evidence, heard the rebuttal to the evidence and then acquitted the president on all the charges brought by the House.

Due process, man. That is what transpired in 1998.  We haven’t been through anything of the sort as it regards the current president.

So, please spare me the “Clinton should have quit, too” mantra. He went through hell by being impeached. He paid a price. Whether it was a sufficient price for what he did depends on whether you agree or disagree with the Senate verdict.

I happen to agree with it.

Taxpayer bill on harassment settlements grows

It turns out that Republican U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold  is far from the only lawmaker to dip into a public cache to pay off sexual harassment settlements.

Farenthold recently announced plans to take out a personal loan to pay back $84,000 he used from the Office of Compliance to pay a settlement to a woman who alleged he sexually harassed her.

Oh, but there’s more.

Now we learn that Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., used the fund to pay $220,000 to a woman who alleged he groped her and sought sexual favors from her. Hastings said he was unaware that the payoff came from public funds until it was just revealed to him. He contends it was all settled without his direct involvement.

There have been resignations from Congress of late over sexual abuse allegations. Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is quitting; Republican U.S. Rep. Trent Franks has already quit; Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers is “retiring.” Will there be more? Stay tuned. I’m betting we’re going to hear about more congressional “retirements” and resignations.

As for this nonsense about using taxpayer money to settle these suits, it has to stop. There must be amendments to the law that created this fund in the fund in the first place.

I happen to be outraged to the max that public money is being used to pay these complaints off. These members of Congress aren’t misbehaving with taxpayer approval, correct? They are acting on their own. Thus, it makes zero sense to settle these complaints with public money that comes out of our pockets … yours and mine.

This newfound culture on Capitol Hill needs to include some serious reforms in the Office of Compliance. There is no justification for using public money to settle sexual harassment or sexual abuse claims leveled against members of Congress.

Sexual harassment accusation takes weird turn

I never thought sexual harassment could become such a, um, creative endeavor.

I am not making light of it, but the case of former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has taken this saga down a strange, dark and bizarre path. He quit the House of Representatives effective immediately after reports surfaced about how he reportedly wanted to impregnate a congressional staffer so she could become a surrogate mother.

Reports surfaced a few days ago about Franks “discussing” surrogate pregnancy with female staffers. He announced his decision to quit in January. Then he changed his mind and walked away now. He’s gone.

Politico reported the new developments, citing “sources” close to the situation. According to Politico: The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with infertility … but the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sex with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

Aides fretted over Franks’ intentions

Franks has run for the House while proclaiming his deep religious faith. To be candid, I kind of smell a rat here. If he was referring to IVF, that would something he could clear up with a simple, declarative statement. Yes?

If he meant something else, well, is that why he decided to vacate his office much sooner rather than later?

Yep. This sexual harassment matter is likely to claim a good many more powerful men.

Best guess: Franken soon to become a ‘former senator’

The late “Dandy Don” Meredith, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and football commentator, was fond of singing “turn out the lights, the party’s over” when a pro football team was blowing another one out on national TV.

Um, U.S. Sen. Al Franken? The party appears to be over.

More women have come forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of groping and unwanted kissing. Droves of Democratic senators now are singing the same chorus: Franken has to quit.

It sounds to me as though the party is over.

Senators turn on one of their own

As a friend of mine noted on Facebook, Franken is about to “spend more time with his family,” but he wonders whether his family will want to spend more time with him.

Let’s all understand something here. There have been no criminal charges filed against Franken. This is purely a political matter. There’s an element of “due process” to follow, but it’s not nearly as critical as it would be if there was criminality involved.

The process is supposed to include an ethics investigation by a Senate committee charged with looking at these matters.

But just as Rep. John Conyers was damaged beyond repair over the allegations that took him out of office, the same appears to be said of Franken.

If his fellow Democrats are turning on him in this fashion, Franken cannot possibly continue to serve in the Senate.

So much for a 2020 presidential campaign, eh?

Congressman to pay it back … good!

A Corpus Christi congressman got caught doing something bad: He dipped into a taxpayer fund to finance a settlement paid to a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment.

Blake Farenthold, a Republican, has done the right thing in response. He has pledged to take out a personal loan totaling $84,000 to repay what he took from the Office of Compliance fund.

At issue was a complaint filed by Lauren Greene, the congressman’s former communications director. Greene had alleged a hostile work environment, sexual discrimination and harassment against Farenthold, who then got taxpayer money to pay Greene off.

Farenthold denied doing anything wrong. Sure thing, young man. Whatever.

“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold said.

But the story here is that Farenthold is seeking to make it right by repaying the Office of Compliance fund. What’s more, he vows to “fix the system.”

Here’s an idea, Rep. Farenthold: Draft a bill that eliminates a certain provision contained in the Office of Compliance. The idea that taxpayer money would be used to finance these settlements is offensive on its face. Indeed, since 1997, the office has ponied up more than $17 million to settle various workplace complaints.

According to the Texas Tribune: “That account — and the elected officials using it — has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid a growing tide of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men.” 

That “scrutiny” isn’t about to let up. Perhaps one possible reform could be to rid that office of the provision that pays these settlements regarding sexual harassment.

Are you in, Rep. Farenthold?

Public shouldn’t foot the bill for these settlements

This one not only doesn’t pass the smell test, it is downright putrid in the extreme.

A Texas congressman reportedly paid an $84,000 settlement to a former staffer who sued him for sexual harassment. Where did Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, get the dough to pay the settlement? From your pocket. And from mine.

That’s right. Rep. Farenthold reportedly dipped into a taxpayer funded cash drawer to settle a dispute brought against a member of Congress who allegedly mistreated a female staff member.

Does it stink? Like a dirty dog!

According to Politico: House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door Friday morning meeting that only one House office in the past five years had used an Office of Compliance account to settle a sexual harassment complaint. Harper said in that one instance, the settlement totaled $84,000.

In a statement for this story, Farenthold would neither confirm or deny that his office was responsible for that $84,000 payout.

Let me venture a guess. Farenthold paid the settlement with the public’s money.

If I were King of the World, I would strip Congress of that Office of Compliance fund and force any member of Congress to pay any such settlement out of his or her pocket.

I am aware that Farenthold denies sexually harassing his former press aide. The Office of Congressional Ethics sided with Farenthold. See the Politico story here.

Still, if there’s going to be a settlement in a complaint filed against a member of Congress, I happen to dislike intensely the notion of dipping into taxpayers’ pockets to pay the bill.

Mind-boggling series of events keeps head spinning

My mind is officially boggled.

I awoke this morning, looked at my social media news feed and saw that NBC fired “Today” co-host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual conduct.” It didn’t end with that stunning announcement.

Later today, I saw that NPR icon Garrison Keillor also has been let go by the public radio network for, um, similar conduct.

This is getting even more stunning than it was before.

NBC went straight for the throat in canning Lauer. The network didn’t wait for any further substantiation of the allegation that came from a network colleague. At this moment, I don’t even know the particulars of what the woman accused Lauer of doing to her.

The network acted immediately on hearing what I am going to presume it believes was a credible accusation.

Network news icons are falling like tall timber. Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor. Those are just the biggest of the big names. Then we have the likes of Mark Halperin and Glenn Thrush who have lost their jobs over accusations of misbehavior with women.

When is this going to end?

I haven’t even mentioned — until this very minute — the accusations that have sullied the reputations of political leaders. It’s a bipartisan affliction.

I’m beginning to think that employers will need to revamp the applications they ask prospective employees to fill out. Many businesses ask applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony. That’s fine.

They will now likely have to ask: Have you ever committed an act that someone could construe to be sexual harassment … or worse?

This wave of dismissals amid accusations looks for all the world like a purging that needs to occur.

Yep, it’s harder to come down on those you respect

It’s time for an admission.

I am admitting that it is easy for me to criticize politicians I dislike, or even detest and that it’s harder to go negative against those I respect.

Thus, I am having a conflict of sorts as I watch this story about Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken play out. Franken has apologized for groping a woman in 2006 while the two of them were on a USO tour; it was before Franken became a member of the Senate. He was a mere comedian at the time of the incident.

The woman, TV news anchor Leann Tweeden, produced a picture of him groping her while she apparently was asleep. She didn’t consent to the groping or to the kiss that Franken reportedly laid on her. Tweeden has accepted Franken’s apology to her.

What gives me grief is that I grew to respect Franken’s performance as a senator. I agree with his politics and thought he had a bright future in politics.

I am now left to use past-tense verbs when talking about Franken. I no longer respect him or admire him. I don’t know how much of a future he now has in politics. Yes, it pains me to say all this.

Unlike the scandal that’s swallowing up Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Alabama, this Franken story is giving me grief. I find myself writing critically of him while my teeth are clenched. I have no such difficulty while criticizing the likes of Donald J. Trump, or Roy Moore, or Newt Gingrich (when he was fooling around on his then-wife in the 1990s).

This time, I suppose that because the latest bomb to detonate involves a politician I formerly admired, that I should really drop the hammer on him … rhetorically, of course.

I am more than merely disappointed in Al Franken. I am outraged that he would betray those of us who once thought so highly of him.

Franken deserves to be censured … at minimum

Al Franken has acquitted himself surprisingly well in the U.S. Senate.

Until now.

The Minnesota Democrat has been snagged in a growing scandal involving members of Congress who have misbehaved badly in the presence of women. A television news anchor has come forth with an accusation that in 2006 Franken, before he was a senator, grabbed her and kissed her without her permission.

Franken has apologized for his conduct. He also says he remembers the incident — which occurred when the then-comedian was on a USO tour of the Middle East — differently from what the woman has alleged.

That is not good enough, senator.

The only aspect of this case that differs from the hideous accusations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore — who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls — is that the accuser was an adult when the incident occurred.

That doesn’t make it acceptable in any form or fashion.

You see, Franken is one of those lawmakers who likes to speak glowingly of his wife, their children and grandchildren. He presents himself as a devoted family man.

What should the Senate do? I think a censure is clearly in order. There ought to be a strong statement condemning one of the body’s colleagues — who until this week was actually discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

For those of us out here in Flyover Country who have admired the work he has done ever since he joined the Senate, Al Franken has just become a huge disappointment.

GOP Senate candidate turns toxic

They’re now starting to cut ties with one of their own.

Republican U.S. senators who once backed the candidacy of Alabama GOP nominee Roy Moore are bailing on a guy they once hoped would join their ranks.

Moore is accused of having making improper sexual advances on a 14-year-old girl nearly 40 years ago. Moore was 32 years of age when he allegedly made the advance on Leigh Corfman, who’s now 53 and has come forward with the scathing accusation. Other women have told essentially the same type of story about Moore.

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana have rescinded their endorsements of Moore. They haven’t exactly declared him guilty as charged. They are concerned about what they believe are the veracity of the allegations made.

Indeed, they are seeking to cut their own political losses by severing ties with Moore. There well might be more defections as the Alabama special election set for Dec. 12 draws closer.

As for Moore, he is denying it all. He says he doesn’t know Leigh Corfman. He calls it a conspiracy cooked up by Democrats. He calls the allegation the work of the “forces of evil.”

Well, let’s just wait and see how this plays out. Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Doug Jones might be the immediate beneficiary of the troubles that now are threatening to swallow Roy Moore whole.

We have entered an entirely new political environment fueled by he “Me Too” movement that has swelled in the wake of sexual abuse/assault/harassment allegations that have all but destroyed the careers of Hollywood titans.

It isn’t pretty. It is, however, a significant part of a brand new political reality.