Hillary Clinton’s former sidekick Tim Kaine sent a letter asking the Senate to release data on the volume of sexual-harassment claims and settlements against upper chamber members and their staff. The Virginia senator’s request comes the same day Minnesota senator Al Franken stepped down following sexual-misconduct allegations.
Accusations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein brought Washington’s own issues with sexual harassment to light, spanning from its hush culture to elevator groping on Capitol Hill. Many taxpayers weren’t aware their tax dollars cover harassment settlements against lawmakers.
“I plan to publicly disclose this information because I believe it will provide some insight into the scope of the problem and help determine solutions for preventing and addressing future incidents,” Kaine wrote, promising to maintain the privacy of the survivors and accused. He continued:
This pervasive problem continues to serve as a barrier to ensure true gender equality. At a more personal level, it signals the failure of our society to guarantee even the basic safety and dignity of our colleagues, classmates, friends, family, and neighbors. Indeed, how we respond establishes the standard for others. A lax or indifferent response, marked only by symbolic changes, signals that we consider the issue a low priority. But a strong response that seeks to establish true accountability will hopefully encourage others to follow.
The current policy obscures the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the Senate and will only allow the problem to persist, according to Kaine. If the Senate complies with Kaine’s request, perhaps sexual harassment will no longer be considered an ‘occupational hazard’ of the political workplace.