Sen. Kaine seeks data on harassment claims on Capitol Hill

Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 06, 2017

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine requested records Tuesday from the Office of Compliance that detail the scope of sexual harassment claims filed against members of Congress, as well as congressional staffers.

In a letter to the head of the Office of Compliance, the office that handles harassment complaints and administers payments, Kaine asked for the number of harassment claims filed in the last decade; the number of claims against members of the Senate and their staffs that ended in “some form of resolution”; and the amount of each settlement paid with taxpayer funds.

In the letter to Susan Tsui Grundmann, the office’s executive director, Kaine says he plans to publicly disclose the information if the committee provides it.

“In the interest of transparency, I plan to publicly disclose this information because I believe it will provide some insight into the scope of the problem and help determine solutions for preventing and addressing future incidents, Kaine said.

No such breakdown of sexual harassment claims has been previously released by the Office of Compliance.

At the request of the House Committee on Administration last week, the OOC released data showingthat it had paid six settlements since 2013. The Office of Compliance said just one of those settlements — for $84,000 — was for a sexual harassment claim.

The top members on the Senate Ethics Committee, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, wrote to the Office of Compliance last week seeking information on all claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and other prohibited workplace practices involving members of the Senate. The chair and ranking member of the House ethics panel have made a similar request of the OOC.

The push for additional data comes as congressional leaders are under pressure to reform the secretive system through which harassment claims are handledon Capitol Hill. Earlier this week, John Conyers of Michigan retired shortlyafter allegations that he sexually harassed women that worked for him while he served in Congress.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken also faces pressure to resignafter a number of women claimed he touched them inappropriately.