(CNSNews.com) – Conservatives support transparency in congressional sexual harassment claims, saying the identities of members of Congress who used taxpayer money to settle those claims should be revealed publicly.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does not support naming the congressmen who used taxpayer funds to settle sexual harassment claims in the past. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she supports revealing the names of congressmen who used taxpayer money to pay off their victims as long as the victim agrees to make it public.
CNSNews.com asked conservatives which one they agreed with.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh told CNSNews.com he doesn’t know that he agrees with either Pelosi or Ryan. He said he thinks “full transparency’s the way to go.”
“I’m a pretty much transparency across the board type of person, so I think they should explain where they spent every penny of it, whether someone agreed or not. If they took the money, that’s to me agreement enough that they should be willing to let people know they took taxpayer money. If they paid for money, that’s enough that they should be willing to let people know that they paid it using taxpayer money,” McIntosh said.
“This isn’t normally one of our issues. We’re focused on economic policy, but in this case, each one of these people is up for re-election, and our view is the record should be transparent and available to every voter,” he added.
Concerned Women for America President and CEO Penny Nance had a similar response.
“Taxpayers deserve to know which members of Congress paid former employees in settlements for sexual misconduct. We have a right to know and to choose whether or not to hold them accountable at the voting booth. This is not a political issue it’s a moral one,” Nance told CNSNews.com
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, agreed with Pelosi’s response.
“With the caveat that an agreement to settle does not equate to an acknowledgement of guilt, we believe taxpayers have the right to know on whose behalf their funds were used to settle sexual harassment cases, as long as the alleged victim approves release of the information,” she said.
Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), said the only reason members of Congress keep names secret is because they made a system to protect themselves and keep their identities secret and that publicly revealing their names is one step in holding them accountable, which they have avoided for too long.
“Congressional leaders need to name names. The public deserves to know. Not only because the $17 million in harassment settlement payouts were taxpayer dollars, but also because each day without action puts others at risk of becoming victims of predatory behavior in the workplace. If public officials are not held accountable for unethical and criminal behavior this cycle of workplace harassment will never end,” Arnold said.
Last November, FACT called for the immediate release of the names of all members of Congress connected to the $17 million in taxpayer funds that the Office of Compliance (OOC) paid out to sexual harassment victims and other forms of harassment and discrimination over the past 20 years.
Even though Congress is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), FACT says that’s even more reason why releasing this information quickly is important – not just for transparency’s sake, but to hold public officials accountable for “unethical and criminal behavior.”
Last December, FACT awarded first place in its annual Top 5 Worst Ethical Violators to all unknown members of Congress tied to the OOC’s sexual harassment settlement fund.