Article from Rare by Bonnie Kristian.

As allegations of sexual harassment, assault and other sundry misconduct by powerful men have spread from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. — aka “Hollywood for ugly people” — the list of the accused is increasingly populated by elected officials. So far we know of allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), but at this point it would be surprising if more accusations didn’t surface, as female lawmakersand congressional staff have made clear the Hill has an entrenched culture of gross sexual harassment.

One reason we haven’t seen more of these stories sooner is settlements. Conyers, for example, reportedly settledwith a former staffer for about $27,000 in a wrongful termination case. She was allegedly fired from his congressional office after refusing to “succumb to [his] sexual advances.” Her complaint was made through Congress’s Office of Compliance, and it was via this office that the reported settlement — including a confidentiality agreement that prevented her exposing Conyers’ alleged behavior — was reached. The money reportedly came from Conyers’ office budget.

This is a revealing, but not isolated case. As the Washington Post reported in mid-November, in the past two decades, the “Office of Compliance has paid more than $17 million for 264 settlements and awards to federal employees for violations of various employment rules including … sexual harassment.” The average payout is about $65,000, and the settlements are designed to keep the allegations out of the public eye. In fact, the Post story noted, all settlements “paid from the designated Treasury account” are “confidential.”

While it is understandable that the victims of such violations would want to keep their identities private, the flaws in this system are self-evident: It permits elected officials and other government employees to avoid legal consequences for their misbehavior, from the petty to the criminal, and to do so at the taxpayer’s expense without the taxpayer’s knowledge.

Read the entire article in Rare.