(CNSNews.com) – A bill requiring the disclosure of members of Congress who have settled sexual harassment claims has been introduced and is awaiting action in the House.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act on Nov. 30, 2017. The bill, which was referred to the House Administration Committee, has 92 co-sponsors – both Democrats and Republicans.
The bill would “amend the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to prohibit the use of public funds to pay awards and settlements in connection with claims under such Act which arise from sexual harassment, and for other purposes.”
According to a DeSantis’s website, the measure requires “disclosure within 30 calendar days of all settlement payments funded by taxpayers, the reason for the payment and the nature of the allegation, and the member of Congress or congressional staffer implicated in the matter.”
It would also “prohibit the future use of taxpayer dollars to pay sexual harassment and sexual assault claims against members of Congress and staff” and “prohibit members of Congress from using office budgets to camouflage payments.”
Furthermore, it requires “members of Congress and staff that have ever been named in a sexual harassment or sexual assault settlement paid for by taxpayers” to pay the money back to the U.S. Treasury “with interest.”
Anyone who “received an award may make public statements about the claims notwithstanding the terms of a nondisclosure agreement and nondisclosure agreements cannot be made a condition of any future settlements,” according to DeSantis’s website.
According to DeSantis, more than $15 million in taxpayer funds “has been paid out to settle claims, including sexual harassment claims,” since 1995.
“While the amount of money paid is public, everything else is secret. The public doesn't know which members have been involved in taxpayer-financed settlements for alleged misconduct,” DeSantis noted.
CNSNews.com contacted Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office to ask whether Ryan plans to support the bill, whether he will bring the bill for a vote, and what the timeline is for action on the bill. A spokesman from Ryan’s office referred CNSNews.com to Ryan’s website, saying whenever the speaker has a position on an issue, he puts it on his website, www.speaker.gov.
CNSNews.com also contacted DeSantis’s office to see whether there’s been any discussion with House leadership on whether it plans to support the bill and also whether and when the bill will be considered for a vote. CNSNews.com did not receive a response by the time the article was published.