by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A government watchdog group on Tuesday called for the disclosure of all Members of Congress who are tied to a taxpayer-funded multi-million dollar “slush fund” that includes payments to settle sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog, said the settlement list from the Office of Compliance (OOC), which totals $17 million in payments over the last 20 years, should be released for transparency purposes and to hold public officials accountable for their actions.
“Sadly, it has just come to light that for years the government spent millions in taxpayer dollars to try and quietly make sexual misconduct by lawmakers go away. That is an egregious affront to all the victims, as well as taxpayers,” said Kendra Arnold, the executive director of FACT. “We don’t need speeches and public posturing—we need the internal policy to change and immediate transparency. Congressional leaders need to name names and each day that goes by without action is another day more innocent people are put at risk of becoming victims of predatory behavior in the workplace.”
Arnold said that Congress’s exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is even more reason the settlement list should be released to the public. The $17 million taxpayer-funded settlement fund, which is referred to as a “slush fund” by critics, has garnered wide attention following a string of sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood, the media, and in Congress.