Speed Reads

Follow the money

Congress used $4 million in taxpayer money to settle harassment suits in one year alone

On Thursday, journalist Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of groping her and kissing her without her consent in 2006, providing photo evidence of Franken touching her breasts while she was asleep. The allegations against Franken are but the latest of mounting stories of inappropriate conduct or unwanted contact by government figures, including Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore as well as former President George H.W. Bush.

Earlier this week, CNN reported that women on Capitol Hill, past and present, circulate a word-of-mouth "creep list" that warns of "the male members most notorious for inappropriate behavior." Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) additionally testified before the House that two sitting lawmakers — one Republican, one Democrat — have been accused of sexual harassment.

On Thursday, the Office of Compliance released a year-by-year itemization of the money spent toward settling such cases. While the OOC's numbers account for other types of discrimination, including on racial or religious grounds, in addition to sexual harassment suits, the numbers are staggering. In 2007 alone, for example, more than $4 million of taxpayer money was put toward settling claims:

In sum, over 21 years, $17,240,854 of taxpayer dollars has been spent on 264 settlements of harassment claims. (For reference, $17 million is more than double the entire net worth of Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali.)

Read more about the rules of reporting sexual harassment in Congress here, or read Damon Linker explain how the Franken allegations are just the beginning of the "hurricane of sexual abuse allegations" coming for Washington here at The Week.