Two current lawmakers allegedly have sexually harassed congressional staff in the past. And a former staffer reportedly asked to deliver papers to a member’s home was greeted by him wearing only a towel.
Such allegations are rare. Members of Congress seldom criticize colleagues for misconduct, especially when the allegation is sexual harassment. Speier and Comstock’s accounts are among dozens detailing a hostile and predatory environment for female staffers that have emerged after accusations targeting Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein seemingly broke through a conspiracy of silence pervasive in many of the nation’s most respected and influential institutions.
Accusations involving current and former members of Congress and staff have reinvigorated efforts to provide more protections for victims on the Hill. But so far, no prominent lawmakers have been named.
“I have had numerous meetings and phone calls with staff members both present and former, women and men who have been subjected to this inexcusable and oftentimes illegal behavior,” said Speier, who testified at the hearing and questioned witnesses.
Speier said there are two members of Congress, a Republican and a Democrat, “who have engaged in sexual harassment.”
“These harassers [made] propositions such as ‘Are you going to be a good girl?’” Speier said. She also spoke of misconduct from “perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor.”