My first job was at a domestic violence shelter where I worked with rape and domestic violence survivors. In that job, I learned that sexual harassment, assault and abuse are always about power and the abuse of power. This behavior is always wrong. In Washington, the system in place today allows this inappropriate behavior to be hushed up with taxpayer dollars. I expect more from members of Congress, and I know you do too.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are always wrong. Members of Congress who engage in this hurtful behavior do not deserve our trust and should resign.
Taxpayers should never pay for this bad behavior. Last week, I worked with Congressman Ron DeSantis of Florida to introduce bipartisan legislation called the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used in sexual harassment settlements involving Members of Congress. We also sent a letter to the Office of Compliance, the office responsible for managing the workplace harassment resolution process in Congress, demanding the public release of the names of Members of Congress involved in sexual harassment settlements and the amounts of the settlements.
On Monday, I will introduce bipartisan legislation to garnish wages of members of Congress who use taxpayer money to cover up their offenses. The Garnishing for Unethical Actions to Restore Dignity (GUARD) Act mandates that the House or Senate withhold the salaries of Members of Congress or Senators who settle sexual harassment claims and reduce the salary by the amount of a sexual harassment settlement. The bill requires that any reduction in salary as a result of a harassment claim be made public.
I also cosponsored the bipartisan Me Too Congress Act, which reforms the congressional workplace harassment resolution process. Under the bill, complainants would have access to a Victims' Counsel for legal representation; "cooling off periods," mediation and counseling would become optional; and requiring confidentiality agreements would be prohibited. Members and staff are also now required to take sexual harassment training on an annual basis.
These changes will hold people who engage in sexual harassment or sexual assault accountable and protect Americans' tax dollars from being used to hush up bad behavior.
I am honored to serve in Congress on behalf of Arizona families like yours. We always appreciate hearing from you on current topics and issues that are important to you. If there is an issue that concerns you, please let us know by clicking this link or by calling our Phoenix office: 602-956-2285. Be sure to stay connected through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and let us know how we can be of service.