Tax Money for Harassment Claims: How It Happened? Still Unclear
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Transparency is a great way to "drain the swamp", said Rep. Todd Rokita. The Republican, who's running for Senate to try and take Democrat Joe Donnelly's seat (he faces Luke Messer and Mike Braun in the Republican primary) said his bill will force people in Congress to show all past cases where they've used taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claims.
"Taxpayer dollars were being used to settle these cases. So, I was pleased to work with Congressman Ron DeSantis, of Florida, in a bi-partisan way, to address that," said Rokita. "There should be no place in Congress or anywhere else for taxpayers to have to settle those kinds of suits."
Rokita said he does not understand how taxpayer money ended up being used to settle claims, and in some cases keep victims quiet.
"I can't say that it was a statute. I'm vice-chairman of the House Budget Committee. We comb this stuff very well, including the budgets for the legislators." Nonetheless, the money slipped by somehow.
"We had no evidence of this, that this was even happening," he said. "This didn't show up in our budget documents. It didn't show up anywhere."
Rokita said he believes the bill he's put together will keep it from happening any longer.
"Transparency is a great antiseptic. A lot of what our bill does is put in the light of day the prior claims that were settled, as well as any claims that will be made in the future."
Rokita said he believes the bill will help "drain the swamp" by putting the info out for you to see, via the media.
"I think it should go beyond sexual harassment to any kind of tort claim, where taxpayers are being made to defend or settle any kind of tort claim."
Rokita's Republican competition for the Senate race, Luke Messer, said he is also coming out with a bill.
Messer’s bill would ensure victims aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements, and prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims with members of Congress, said a news release from Messer.
“It’s not OK that taxpayer money is used to silence victims of sexual harassment,” Messer said. “If these victims want to tell their story, they should be empowered to do so.”