Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Another one bites the dust

The number of congressmen being sunk by sex scandal has grown by one more.

The latest lawmaker to bail from the 2018 midterm election is Rep. Pat Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican. Meehan had been the subject of a lot of chatter about a sexual harassment complaint that a former staffer filed against him.

Meehan said he talked it over with his wife and children and decided against seeking another term this year.

So it goes. There have been other members of Congress who have bailed. They include senators and House members of both political parties.

It’s the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements together that have heightened our awareness of this systemic problem.

In Meehan’s case, there might be other concerns, too, that prompted his decision to forgo another re-election campaign. He represents a congressional district that Hillary Rodham Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election. Might there have been something other than a sexual harassment complaint that came into play?

Some commentators have predicted a thundering herd of politicians heading for the exits as more women come forward with complaints. It appears they are correct.

Expecting more from our elected officials

I’m hearing the first hint of grumbling over the “Me Too” movement and fallout.

It comes from those who are wondering whether we’re expecting too much of our elected officials who’ve been caught abusing women sexually. Are we asking that only prudes can qualify for public service?

I’m as liberated a male as there is, but I remain fairly old-fashioned on some matters. I don’t believe in knowing the sex of unborn children; I hate the designated hitter rule in baseball … just for example.

Moreover, I expect my elected officials to represent the very best of the people they represent. They are our ambassadors. They are supposed to appeal to the very best of in all of us.

The accusations of sexual misbehavior and misconduct are troubling in the extreme to yours truly.

Yeah, yeah … I understand that no one is perfect. I don’t demand perfection, however. I merely want the individuals we elect to public office to know how to treat other human beings. Threatening them with the loss of job if they don’t “perform” is not part of the routine I want them to follow.

Let’s understand that they work for us. We are the bosses, not them. If they don’t behave the way we want or expect them to behave, they need to prepare to get the boot from those of us who expect more of them.

Capitol Hill gripped by fear of harassment

It’s come down to this.

Members of Congress — senators and House members — are being harassed and hassled themselves by bogus complaints alleging sexual harassment.

What has become of this scandal? Has it grown to something no one recognizes?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has had to fend off a fake complaint, as has Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Yes, this issue is real. It has reached scandalous proportions as scores of women have levied credible, legitimate complaints against powerful men in government. Three of them have been forced to resign; others are declaring their intention to bow out after the 2018 midterm election.

Some of these accusations involve some truly hideous conduct.

But there now appears to be some evidence of bogus allegations surfacing.

Let’s be careful — shall we? — as we continue to grapple with this matter.

We have complaints being lodged against none other than the president of the United States. Many of those complaints seem quite credible, in my humble view. The president has called them liars and said their accusations are part of a “fake news” effort to undermine him.

Then we have comments from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, saying that all complaints “need to be heard.” I agree with her.

Be careful of fear

Then again, let us be take care that we don’t push the sexual harassment panic button at every single complaint. Human beings are quite capable of tricking the rest of us.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “You want to have a welcome environment to report abuse — you don’t want to deter victims. But you’ve got to have enough due process and scrutiny to make sure it’s accurate.”

“I think this environment is pretty crazy right now,” Graham added, and “what happened to Sen. Schumer is a concern to a lot of us.”

Another one bites the dust

Blake Farenthold has given a new, but strangely ironic meaning to the “Me Too” movement.

The Republican member of Congress from Corpus Christi has said “Me, too … I’m ‘retiring’ from the House of Representatives because of sexual harassment allegations.”

Farenthold reportedly is going to call it a career after the 2018 midterm election. He won’t seek re-election.

He joins a growing and infamous list of members of Congress who’ve bowed to immense and intense public pressure brought on by their sexual misbehavior. We have seen the departures of Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and now this guy, Farenthold.

Read more about it here.

Are there other individuals out there? I’m thinking … yep. There are.

Farenthold is a back-bench member. He’s not a GOP leader in the House. He’s just sort of a loudmouth who once implied he would like to engage in a duel — you know, with pistols — with female members of the House who voted against the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then it got even worse!

Farenthold was revealed to have spent $84,000 in public money to settle sexual harassment complaints against him. To his credit, he took out a personal loan to pay it back.

That’s not the end of it. CNN reports that new allegations have come forward, accusing Farenthold of being verbally abusive and sexually demeaning.

I guess that signaled the end of the line for this guy. I would prefer he would just walk away now and allow someone else to win a special election and represent the Coastal Bend district with dignity and honor. We’ll have to settle for this clown serving until the end of his term.

This is the new culture in Washington, D.C. Women are coming forward, emboldened to speak out strongly against those who they contend are abusing, demeaning and threatening them.

Now … if only we could just get the goods on yet another leading politician, the guy who calls the shots in the Oval Office.

Maybe that day is coming, too.

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.