Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-06) – alongside Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07), Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), and Kathleen Rice (D-NY-04) – today unveiled the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act. This legislation will bring transparency to the process for harassment claims paid out under the Congressional Accountability Act and prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to pay future sexual harassment or sexual assault claims.
“What does it say about the sincerity of Congress in combatting harassment when members and staff can have taxpayers cover for their misconduct while keeping it all secret?,” DeSantis said. “The current system incentivizes misconduct and makes it difficult for victims. By exposing these secret settlements and by discontinuing using tax dollars to pay for member misconduct, this bill will reduce the incentive for bad behavior and bring more accountability to Congress.”
The Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act will:
Require 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.
Prohibit the future use of taxpayer dollars to pay sexual harassment and sexual assault claims against members of Congress and staff.
Prohibit members of Congress from using office budgets to camouflage payments.
Require members of Congress and staff that have ever been named in a sexual harassment or sexual assault settlement paid for by taxpayers reimburse the U.S. Treasury with interest.
Any individual 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.
“No more cover-ups,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “We need transparency, safety and appropriate behavior. Sexual misconduct has no place here, or anywhere.”
Original cosponsors: Jack Bergman (R-MI-01), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07), Dave Brat (R-VA-07), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), John Delaney (D-MD-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02), Jody Hice (R-GA-10), Mike Johnson (R-LA-04), Walter Jones (R-NC-03), Dave Loebsack (D-IA-02), Luke Messer (R-IN-06), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Gary Palmer (R-AL-06), Steve Pearce (R-NM-02), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-04), Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Thomas Rooney (R-FL-17), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10).