Congresswoman Says Two Current Members of Congress Sexually Harassed Staffers

State Rep. Linda Koop R-Dallas at a House Appropriations Committee hearing on 

State Rep. Linda Koop R-Dallas at a House Appropriations Committee hearing

She said that when she was just starting her career in politics, the chief of staff in her office sexually assaulted her.

Speier has proposed mandating harassment training, instituting biannual surveys to address the scope of the problem on Capitol Hill and reforming the "broken" reporting process, which she described as slow and ineffective.

"There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve who have been subject to review or not been subject to review that have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier told the Committee on House Administration. The majority of the harassment is directed at female staffers and interns.

"I have had numerous meetings and phone calls with staff members - both present and former, women and men - who have been subjected to this inexcusable and oftentimes illegal behavior", said Speier.

Though neither woman named any of those accused of sexual harassment, Comstock made clear that she isn't opposed to it, saying, "I think it's important we name names". "There is a certain code amongst us, we acknowledge among each other what occurs". "You know what? Many of us in Congress know what it's like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long". "If a part of getting ahead on Capitol Hill is playing ball with whatever douchebag - then whatever".

She is also crafting another bill to overhaul the process available for staff to file harassment complaints with Office of Compliance, which she says discourages victims from coming forward.

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"It is like, the place where complaints go to die", the former staffer said.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of NY and Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California have proposed legislation to reform the OOC.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) also told the committee that incidents of sexual harassment and assault were likely being conducted by current House members, telling the story of an unnamed representative who allegedly showed their genitals to a female staffer. Former Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said that she had been sexually harassed by a colleague in front of all their peers in the 1980s.

The hearing is the first in a review of the House's sexual harassment policies and comes amid a growing national awareness of the pervasive nature of workplace sexual harassment and abuse following hundreds of allegations against prominent men in Hollywood, in the media, and in Congress.

House Democrat Jackie Speier, an advocate for an improved anti-harassment system in Congress, said she was aware of two sitting congressmen, a Republican and a Democrat, who "have engaged in sexual harassment".

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a member on the committee, also said she had heard of a congressman who is now serving who had exposed himself to a young female staffer.

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