There are a number of disturbing facts coming out of this recent Buzzfeed story where Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is accused of settling sexual harassment complaints brought against him from former staffers. Not only is Conyers allegedly guilty of harassing the young women who worked for him in the House of Representatives, at least one woman claims she was fired for bringing a complaint against the congressman. And because she was completely blacklisted from Washington employment over the incident, she says she had no choice but to take the $27,000 offered her by Conyers.
But what’s perhaps more disturbing than these salacious details is that this money – this $27K? – came out of a taxpayer-funded office budget! According to Buzzfeed’s story, the scheme went something like this: The woman would be fake-rehired by the office as a “temporary employee.” During this time, she would not report to work or DO any actual work for Conyers. She would simply sit home and collect a fake “paycheck” until such time that she received the $27,000 she agreed to settle for. In this way, the Conyers people could not only retain some semblance of plausible deniability (We didn’t settle! This was just an employment arrangement!), they could avoid the political scrutiny that would come from using tax dollars to pay off a sexual accuser.
Well, it’s time for that scrutiny to begin.
Rep. Jackie Spiers and other women in Congress are attempting to shine a light on the sexual misconduct dirtying up Capitol Hill, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Franken and Conyers are only the first of many politicians on both sides of the aisle who will be forced to pay the piper.
But while it is certainly important to get to the bottom of these allegations and force these politicians to face the music, we should also make sure that we are not publicly funding efforts to keep women silent. That’s like…basic, fundamental stuff right here. And we can begin by kicking Conyers out of office, because this was a blatant scam that should not be tolerated.
We suppose it should be noted that Conyers is denying the allegations, though he does admit that his office arranged the payoff scheme.
“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” Conyers said Tuesday. “My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative. It is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true.”
We fully agree with that last sentence, but we find it hard to believe that Conyers paid this woman $27,000 just…cuz. And if he did, then that makes him guilty of idiocy, bad stewardship of federal funds, and political malpractice. But it’s not even worth going down that road, because anyone who believes that Conyers paid this woman off for no reason isn’t going to be convinced of anything. He’s guilty, he knows it, and he should probably go ahead and resign before more women come forward and embarrass him.