Why some congressmen cling to the job for life, part VII: Taxpayer-funded harassment insurance

**Written by Doug Powers

The latest member of Congress to be named in a harassment story is a Democrat who has been in the House since the continental ice sheet carved out the Great Lakes: Michigan Rep. John Conyers. Taxpayers, take note of the amount of money Conyers reportedly gave the woman to settle the complaint, because you paid for it:

The website BuzzFeed News reported on Monday that the office of Conyers, 88, paid the woman over $27,000 to settle the complaint under a confidentiality agreement.

BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately —rubbing their legs and backs — or requesting sexual favors. One former staffer said one of her duties was “to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources.”
BuzzFeed said it received the documents from right-wing activist Mike Cernovich, but independently confirmed their authenticity. Cernovich said he gave the documents to BuzzFeed News because Democrats would “try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger” if he published them himself.

Conyers is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the longest-serving current member of the House, having arrived in 1965. Calls to Conyers and his office seeking comment were not immediately returned Monday night.

I’m waiting for Conyers’ excuse to be “hey, what else is a guy to do while his wife’s in the slammer?”

Here’s the most maddening part: It isn’t just Franken, Conyers, etc. Congress has an entire cash pot set aside to settle claims against representatives & senators.

The government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to resolve violations filed by employees of Congress. https://t.co/i1019Amxcv

— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 21, 2017

And by “the government” they mean “taxpayers.”

Conyers allegedly used taxpayer funds to bring women to him, and then again used taxpayer funds to settle complaints. One reason some politicians try to cling to the job for life is that you can’t get that sort of 3rd-party-funded sexual harassment insurance in the private sector.

According to Buzzfeed, the complaint against Conyers was settled in 2014, when Republican John Boehner was House Speaker and Nancy Pelosi the Dem Minority Leader. Both Boehner and Pelosi have gone full Sgt. Schultz and claimed they knew nothing of the settlement. If that’s true (big “IF”), where’s the oversight? For now, it sounds like the system was designed to be one giant plausible deniability machine. As if some politicians’ behavior towards others wasn’t bad enough, they also can’t stop groping taxpayers’ wallets.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe