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June 18, 2018 Santiago, Chile
On January 23, 1995, President Bill Clinton signed into law a piece of legislation that had been almost unanimously approved by both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.
It was called the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995-- CAA.
The idea behind the CAA was to force Congress to abide by the same rules of workplace health and safety that private companies have to follow.
And one notable example was sexual harassment; until the CAA was passed, sexual harassment rules didn’t really apply to Congress.
Here’s where it gets crazy, though: the CAA established an agency called the Office of Compliance to adjudicate various workplace complaints.
And the law further directed the Treasury Department to allocate taxpayer funds to pay claims and damages resulting from such workplace complaints.
In other words, for nearly a quarter of a century, taxpayers have been footing the bill to settle monetary damages every time a member of Congress was caught groping an intern.
What’s more, section 416 of the CAA requires that all mediation, hearings, and deliberation in sexual harassment claims (or any other workplace complaint) be kept strictly confidential, i.e. NOT disclosed to the public.
Plus a lot of the settlements come with strings attached. In one case of sexual harassment against former Congressman John Conyers, the legal settlement required the complainant to sign an agreement with strict non-disparagement clauses:
“Complainant agrees that she will not disseminate or publish, or cause anyone else to disseminate or publish, in any manner, disparaging or defamatory remarks or comments adverse to the interests of Representative John Conyers...”
They’re finally in the midst of passing a law to change this.
There’s a new bill that was recently introduced in the Senate called the CAA Reform Act which aims to heavily revise the original 1995 bill.
Among other provisions, section 111 of the CAA Reform Act will require members of Congress to pay their own damn legal settlements… so they’ll no longer be able to grope interns on the taxpayers' dime.
It’s amazing that this was actually the law of the land for more than two decades.
The United States fancies itself as having the most advanced republican democracy in the world. But this is banana republic stuff, plain and simple.
Ik kwam zojuist mijn oude vriend, de bestseller-auteur en mainstream-opiniemaker Geert Mak in de regen op straat tegen. Na elkaar te hebben begroet, vertelde Geert mij dat hij van oordeel is dat Europa zo snel mogelijk met Rusland om de tafel moet gaan zitten, om de opgelopen spanningen te deëscaleren. De VS heeft heel andere belangen dan 'wij,' aldus Mak, die benadrukte dat de macht van 'onze' Atlantische bondgenoot ingrijpend aan het afnemen is. Kortom, ik hoorde wat ikzelf al enige jaren op mijn weblog schrijf. Opvallend hoe een Nederlandse opiniemaker binnen zo'n betrekkelijk korte tijd zo wezenlijk van oordeel kan veranderen. Immers, Mak’s gevaarlijke anti-Rusland hetze was een treffend voorbeeld van zijn opportunisme. Mei 2014 beweerde op de Hilversumse televisie de zogeheten ‘chroniqueur van Amsterdam, Nederland, Europa en de VS,’ dat er sprake was van een 'Russische gevaar,’ aangezien ‘meneer Poetin’ aan ‘landjepik’ deed en dat de Russische president d…
A sign marks the entrance to White Earth Indian Reservation in Mahnomen County, Minn. (J. Stephen Conn / CC 2.0)
WHITE EARTH RESERVATION, Minn.—Candice (not her real name) awoke with a start. Someone was pulling down her sweatpants. It was a male friend.
“Stop!” she shouted.
He kept groping her. She kicked him and he fell off the bed. She dashed out of the bedroom, tripping and tumbling down the stairs. Gripped with fear, she heard his footsteps behind her in the dark and forced herself to stand upright as she staggered out to the porch.
Candice was still intoxicated. She got into her car and drove into a ditch. A white police officer pulled up. She struggled to hold back tears as she told him about the attempted rape.
All the officer saw was a drunk and disorderly Native American woman. He dismissed Candice’s report of sexual assault as a lie she had made up to avoid getting a DUI. He did not take her to the hospital for a forensic exam. The sexual assault was not recorded in his pol…