November 30, 2017
Contact: T.W. Arrighi
Rep. Mimi Walters Cosponsors Bill to Prohibit Use of Taxpayer Funds for Sexual Harassment Settlements
Washington, DC – Representative Mimi Walters (R-California) released the following statement regarding her original cosponsorship of the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act, which was introduced today. This legislation would prohibit the use of public funds to pay sexual harassment settlements or awards. Further, the bill would require all sexual harassment settlements made by the Office of Compliance (OCC) to be made public while prohibiting disclosure of a victim’s identity. The bill would also prohibit the payment of such settlements in the future and require individuals who previously settled sexual assault claims through the OCC to reimburse taxpayers for the claims paid out on their behalf, with interest.
Further, the use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) as a precondition to report sexual harassment claims with the OCC would be prohibited. Victims who previously signed an NDA would have the right to make their allegations public, if they so choose. You can read the full text of the legislation here.
Said Rep. Walters, “The use of taxpayer funds to pay sexual harassment settlements is unacceptable and must end. Members of Congress and staff serve the American people. Inappropriate behavior conducted by public servants should not be covered up with secretive payments using public funds. The victims, who are currently required to sign nondisclosure agreements, are silenced while their harassers can continue to serve under a cloak of secrecy.
“The Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act will end this disturbing cycle and empower victims to share their stories. Under this bill, individuals who violated the public trust would be held financially responsible and publicly accountable. These changes will result in work environment free from harassment and discrimination for all congressional members and staff. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation and urge my colleagues to stand with victims and restore the public’s trust by supporting this bill.”
Walters represents California’s 45th District and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.