You're providing the hush money for congressional sexual harassment

Ending this insane practice would probably be the most unifying issue in America — if Congress could bear to take it up, that is

Hush money.
(Image credit: money concept images / Alamy Stock Photo)

The last news story I read before taking that most American of four-day reprieves from anything to do with politics or world affairs was illustrated with an image of the massive white belly of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) staring out at me like the abdomen of some great and hideous spider. This picture, apparently taken from nature, was allegedly sent by the congressman to a woman whom he later allegedly threatened with an investigation by the Capitol Police Force and the FBI should she choose to share it with the American people.

The news of Barton's ridiculous ultimatum came only a few weeks after a report from The Washington Post revealed that in the last decade Congress has paid out more than $17 million in settlements related to the violation of workplace regulations, including sexual harassment. Meanwhile, with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) simultaneously ashamed of various incidents and uncertain of their ever having taken place and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) trying to explain away a $27,000 payment to a staffer fired after refusing to yield to his advances, leaders of both parties find themselves under pressure to make all the facts known about these and similar cases on Capitol Hill.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.