Sen. Claire McCaskill on Tuesday revealed she was sexually harassed while she served as an intern in Congress amid calls for policy change that would protect those looking to report inappropriate behavior from House members and their staffers.
On the heels of sexual harassment scandals rocking Hollywood and the media, some are wondering if Capitol Hill is next, particularly after Rep. Jackie Speier released her own “Me Too” video.
A senior Senate staff member is accused of trying to tug open a junior aide’s wrap dress at a bar; she said he asked why she was “holding out.” A former aide says a congressman grabbed her backside, then winked as he walked away. A district worker said a House member told her to twirl in a dress for him, then gave her a bonus when he liked what he saw.
In light of ongoing revelations of sexual harassment across the country, we decided to draft a letter two weeks ago urging Senate and House leaders to take more robust action against harassment on Capitol Hill, where we both worked for years. We thought we could get 100 signatures from fellow former congressional staffers.
Shortly after Dorena Bertussi’s name was published in one of the first major sexual harassment scandals in the House of Representatives, she came home to the sound of a ticking clock on her home answering machine.
For years, Ellen, a former staffer for a Republican on Capitol Hill, worked with a serial sexual harasser. His methods were myriad: He’d make sexually explicit comments in the middle of meetings. He’d come up behind her desk chair and grind himself against it.
More than 1,200 former Capitol Hill staffers have signed a letter asking congressional leaders to overhaul the sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill. The co-signers urge House and Senate leaders to change its policy to require mandatory harassment training, make counseling available and mediation voluntary if individuals file a complaint with the Office of Compliance. It also asks Congress to survey congressional staff every two years to better understand harassment on Capitol Hill and figure out how well the programs are working, according to the letter organized by Travis Moore with Tech Congress.
More than 1,000 former staff members have signed an open letter urging the House and Senate to require anti-harassment training and overhaul the process for filing complaints, after news reports documented the persistence of lewd comments and unwanted touching on Capitol Hill.