It’s becoming impossible to keep up with all the allegations of sexual impropriety being hurled at left-wing men in the public eye.
Now we learn that big-city Sixties radical nutbar nonpareil Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) was accused of sexual harassment and silenced his alleged victim with a nondisclosure agreement as part of a legal settlement.
The 88-year-old former House Judiciary Committee chairman, first elected in 1964, reportedly settled a wrongful dismissal complaint with a former employee two years ago who claimed she was terminated because she refused to “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
According to apparently authentic redacted affidavits, the lawmaker “repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public.”
Regardless of the question of Conyers’ guilt or innocence, the affidavits throw light on a complex dispute resolution process that the Legislative Branch uses to resolve, or some would say, squelch sexual harassment claims.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: A grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request, because she said she fears retribution.
Last week the Washington Post reported that the office paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the Office of Compliance, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.
In other words, the key takeaway here is that the rules everyone else in society follows regarding sexual harassment allegations don’t apply to House and Senate members. One could even argue that the system was created to insulate those lawmakers from harassment claims. And if the system insulates them, that means it provides lawmakers with incentives to grope, assault, or blackmail employees into sex. Lawmakers know no one will ever find out about the allegations and the taxpayers have to cover payouts to victims.
Right-leaning journalist Mike Cernovich writes that he gave the story to cat-video-and-gossip website BuzzFeed because he wanted to maximize its impact. (BuzzFeed acknowledges Cernovich gave it the affidavits that underlie the story.) His post is titled, “Why I Tipped off BuzzFeed to the Biggest Story of the Year: Congressman John Conyers Jr is a serial sexual predator, and I gave the story to BuzzFeed rather than break it myself.”
He adds, “[i]f a mainstream outlet breaks this story, Democrats are required to answer the story. They can’t use their usual smear tactics. They can’t say, ‘We don’t respond to conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich!’ By going to the media, my reasoning went, the information gets out. This is how to hold Congress accountable, and demand they unseal their hidden record of sexual abuse.”
It remains to be seen if this will be the Biggest Story of the Year™ but it very well could be if it isn’t crowded out by something President Trump does or is accused, falsely or otherwise, of doing.