WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) led a group of 14 freshman Republican and Democrat members Friday in calling for the House Ethics Committee to undertake a “full and complete investigation into allegations that Members of Congress have been using taxpayer dollars to cover up sexual harassment lawsuits.” Additionally, the bipartisan letter calls for the names of those involved in these instances.
“Specifically, we request information regarding all instances of Members using office funds to settle claims with alleged sexual assault victims. The information requested should include the identity of the Members involved.,” reads the letter in part. “American taxpayers deserve full transparency and accountability on this matter, and we must deliver for them.”
The text of the letter is below. A signed copy can be found HERE.
Dear Chairwoman Brooks and Ranking Member Deutch:
The Freshman class of the 115th Congress, request a full and complete investigation into reports that Members of Congress have been using taxpayer dollars to cover up sexual harassment for years. Assuming these allegations are true, this is yet another example of politicians playing by a different set of rules, and is an affront to the hardworking taxpayers forced to foot the bill for these heinous actions. As Members of Congress, we must set the highest standard of moral character, have zero tolerance for deviant behavior, and hold one another accountable.
Specifically, we request information regarding all instances of Members using office funds to settle claims with alleged sexual assault victims. The information requested should include the identity of the Members involved. Furthermore, we propose implementation of severe penalties for this behavior to prevent future offenses. American taxpayers deserve full transparency and accountability on this matter, and we must deliver for them.
Our Freshman Class will, and this entire Congress must, demand full transparency and shine a light on this issue. We stand with the victims and the people who elected us as we root out sexual harassment in Congress.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you on this matter.
Fitzpatrick, who has sought to reform Washington since Day 1 with the introduction of a sweeping government reform and anti-corruption package, has taken a leadership role in pushing back against sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and around the county:
- Helped introduce the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act [HR 4494]. This bipartisan legislation seeks to prevent sexual harassment/assault within the Congress, empower survivors, and eliminate the congressional hush fund that is currently being used to settle such claims with taxpayer money. To those ends, this legislation will:
- prohibit the use of public funds to pay settlements or awards for sexual harassment or assault claims;
- disclose all payments previously made by the Office of Compliance on its website (the name of the victim is expressly prohibited from being disclosed);
- require perpetrators to reimburse the taxpayers with interest;
- prohibit nondisclosure agreements as a precondition to initiate procedures to address sexual harassment or assault claims; and
- permit victims of sexual harassment or assault to make public statements about their claim, regardless of any previously signed nondisclosure agreement.
- Helped introduce the Settlement Tax Deductions are Over for Predators Act (STOP) Act [HR 4495]. This bipartisan legislation would prohibit the deductibility of legal settlements related to sexual assault and sexual harassment as business expenses. Currently, companies can deduct as ordinary and necessary business expenses any legal settlements, fines, fees, and expenses related to sexual assault and sexual harassment cases. In allowing businesses to write off these expenses, the American taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the cost of resolving legal issues related to sexual misconduct. The STOP Act would prohibit deduction of these expenses in cases where the allegations are public or in cases involving a non-disclosure agreement.
- Helped introduce the ME TOO Congress Act [H.R. 4396]. This bipartisan legislation would set definitive criteria to address sexual harassment in all national legislative branch offices. The bipartisan bill would reform the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 procedures for investigating and resolving allegations that legislative branch employing offices violated the rights and protections provided to their employees, including protections against sexual harassment. The bill would ensure that such protected rights are extended to interns, fellows and whistleblowers in Congress.
- Co-sponsored the Congressional Education About Sexual Harassment Eradication Resolution [H.Res. 604] that requires Members of the House, congressional staff, and other employees of the House to complete sexual harassment prevention and response training every year, and then file a certification of completion with the House Committee on Ethics.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Homeland Security, Small Business and Foreign Affairs committees. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).