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Utah Rep. Mia Love proposes to end taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements

Utah Rep. Mia Love proposes to end taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News, File)



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SALT LAKE CITY — Saying she is "outraged" by the use of taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment cases in Congress, Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, introduced a bill Friday to end the practice.

"Taxpayers should not be paying to settle these cases just because the accused happens to be a member of Congress," she said. "If someone behaves badly, the consequences to those actions are that person’s responsibility and no one else’s."

The legislation comes amid a report Friday that Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim by his former communications director. Farenthold is the only known sitting member of Congress to have used a little-known congressional account to pay an accuser, according to Politico.

Love vowed last month to be more vocal about sexual misconduct, saying people need to know it's unacceptable.

The Congressional Accountability Act gives federal employees who accuse a lawmaker of sexual harassment the right to sue, but only if they sign a confidentially agreement. The lawmaker’s identity remains secret.

Love's bill would prohibit payments in claims involving sexual harassment by members of Congress. Claims are settled within Congress for a variety of other workplace violations such as discrimination or unsafe working conditions.

The congresswoman's proposal goes a step further than legislation Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, introduced earlier this week.

Stewart and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., want to allow sexual harassment victims on Capitol Hill to release the names of their perpetrators and taxpayer-funded settlements. Their bill would remove the requirement for a nondisclosure agreement, giving victims the option to speak publicly.

The United Utah Party on Friday called on Utah's congressional delegation to end the secrecy surrounding sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

"Transparency is essential for an honest, moral government,” said United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis. “Allegations of sexual harassment must not become dirty little secrets granted institutional protection.”

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