A Member of Congress Exposed Himself to a Staffer, Lawmakers Say


It comes amid growing calls for an overhaul of the way Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment, including a letter signed by more than 1,500 former Hill staffers who want to see reform for what they say are "inadequate" sexual harassment policies in Congress.

"In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who serve, who have been subject to review or not have been subject to review, but have engaged in sexual harassment", Speier said in remarks during a House Administration committee hearing on Capitol Hill harassment policies.

The Committee on House Administration is now reviewing the policies in place to address sexual harassment within the Congress.

Years before she was elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) was a U.S. House of Representatives staffer and said she was sexually harassed on the job. The review came in response to the increased attention that has been placed on sexual abuse in workplaces big and small across the country.

The hearing was in light of sexual harassment revelations that have shaken workplaces, Hollywood and media companies. As Republicans distance themselves from Moore, lawmakers in the House and Senate are working to address sexual misconduct in the Congressional workplace.

Her colleague, House Republican Barbara Comstock, told the panel of a young staffer who delivered documents to her lawmaker boss's residence and was greeted by the congressman, who was wearing only a towel. "At that point, he chose to expose himself", Comstock said. It was a male, who then invited her in.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

"Leadership within each office is also important, and letting the employees know where they can go to complain is vitally important", Childs Wallace told lawmakers. "There is zero accountability and transparency", she said.

Testimony on the hearing detailed how Congress handled complaints of sex harassment, requiring staffers who complain to first undergo counseling, mediation and a "cooling off" period before possibly reaching settlements with those sexually harassing them. Once those 90 days are up, the victim can then file a formal complaint.

One possible solution to the issue has already been suggested - mandatory sexual harassment training for all lawmakers and their staff.

Interns and fellows do not have access to the process, she noted.