Lawmakers in both parties say members of Congress shouldn’t be allowed to use taxpayer money to settle harassment claims without being named.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) proposed legislation Wednesday that would mandate public disclosure of sexual harassment settlements — and ban Congress from footing the bill for such deals in the future. Within a few hours of introducing his bill, DeSantis had been contacted by several Republican and Democratic lawmakers asking to sign on.
“It’s taxpayer dollars at issue; taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent,” DeSantis said in an interview.
Comments: This is public money, and the public has a right to know how it is spent.
Given the public outrage, I suspect legislators from both parties will rush to have their names listed as co-sponsors.
- I don’t see how some version of this proposal doesn’t pass. The only way to kill it would be in back rooms, and I think the pressure is too great to do it. In fact, that’s part of what the public is angry about: background deals to protect themselves.
- The bill should deal with non-disclosure clauses, as well.
- The problem is not limited to the legislative broach. We need to know whether such payments have been made in the Executive Branch and the Judiciary.
- I suspect we will see similar initiatives in state legislatures–for the same reasons.
- Finally, we need to have a debate about whether public money should even be used for these purposes. The victims need to be compensated, but why should taxpayers, rather than the victimizers, pay?
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Merkel’s Troubles–and Germany’s After her narrow election win, she cannot form a coalition government. Prefers new election (Deutsche Welle, in English)
The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.
She couldn’t find common ground between them.
Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.
◆ Charles Manson dead at 83. Remembering his victims: Rich, famous, fringe, and random (Los Angeles Times)
Comment: Unspeakable evil–with the power to persuade others to join his malign fantasy.
Iran, Sudan, and Syria are already on the list. It had been placed on the list in 1988 and removed by George W. Bush in 2008 as a carrot during failed nuclear negotiations.
“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.
Should have happened years ago. –Pres. Trump (quote at Reuters, link here)
Comment: The big question remains: Will China adhere to US-imposed sanctions or call our bluff by cheating on them?
◆ Sen. Franken: Second woman accuses of “inappropriate touching” (New York Times)
He won’t resign, says his hometown paper, the Star-Tribune.
◆ Roy Moore: Obstinate denials despite mounting evidence, stays in the race
Comment: His refusal to withdraw leaves Senate Republicans in a world of hurt.
Meanwhile, Moore received support at a press conference, featuring women who have worked with him.
Unfortunately, all these women have the same drawback. They are adults.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Roy Moore abandoned by national Republicans as more women accuse him
Comment: With such a thin margin in the Senate, Republicans need the Alabama seat to pass legislation (not that they have done so, yet), but individual office holders cannot afford to back him. And they are absolutely right, ethically, to back away from this sleazebag.
Unfortunately for Republicans, Moore owes them nothing, so they have no leverage to force him out of the race.
Trump and his Press Secretary will have to answer the question, an awkward prospect.
A write-in candidacy might win, but it’s a long shot.
The New York Sun notes the precedent of the Adam Clayton Powell case, where the House refused to seat the long-time congressman in 1966 because of corruption. He took the case to the Supreme Court and won. In other words, Congress can remove people from office after giving them hearings but cannot refuse to seat them.
That would mean immediate and nasty hearings to unseat Moore, with the prospect of further public humiliation. When he contemplates that, he might decide to back out. If he does, the Governor would probably postpone the election–over strenuous Democratic objections and lawsuits.
◆ AG Sessions testifies before Congress on Russia, Clintons, Roy Moore (New York Times)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, showed selective recall on the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.
Mr. Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt these women” who have accused the man who wants his old Senate seat, Roy S. Moore, of seeking sexual or romantic favors from them as teenagers. –New York Times
Comment: There seems to be enough smoke here to warrant a serious investigation. If so, then it should be conducted by a Special Counsel, not the DOJ for several reasons. The most important, by far, is this:
Any investigation of political opponents by law enforcement carries the heavy burden of perceived unfairness. Supporters of the opposing party (or candidate) will fear that the state’s power to investigate and punish is being used to crush opposition. That should never happen in a democracy. Even if the investigation is fair, it must be perceived as fair.
While Sessions and other political appointees could–and would–say that the task has been delegated to “career professionals,” they would have to sign off on any recommendations to charge. Again, their opponents could not be confident the process was fair and impartial.
Bottom line: Appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and the botched FBI investigation of the Clinton email server, including James Comey and Loretta Lynch’s roles.
ZipDialog readers know that, when stories about cities or states break, I turn to the best local news sources.
They have better local contacts and often know more than the media who fly in for the day.
In the case of Roy Moore, the national media are best covering how the Republican Senate and the White House are responding.
The Alabama media is best on what locals know and how they are responding.
Today’s lead webpage from AL.com, a consortium of Alabama’s largest papers, is dominated by the Moore story. (The page is below)
The most interesting new information is (a) Sen. Shelby (R-AL) suggesting a Moore “consider” withdrawing, and (b) Reports from Gadsden, where Moore was living as a young prosecutor, that his interest in young girls was well-known. (It speaks of “flirting,” not assault.)
Moore’s side is looking into allegations that the accusers were “paid to come forward.” If that is true, it would cloud their motives but not the substance of their charges.
The same is true about the Washington Post; its motives may be partisan (as we know Gloria Allred’s are), and that always merits skeptical scrutiny, but it is the substance of these serious charges that really matters here.
Moore–whose candidacy is disturbing for many other reasons as well–denies the accusations, made in the Washington Post (link here).
He claims it is just smear tactics by the WaPo and the Democrats.
Unfortunately for Moore (and the Republicans), the Post article names four separate accusers. No anonymous charges.
No one says they had coitus with Moore.
Three of the four say the encounters were only kissing. One says Moore provided alcohol, though she was underage.
The most overt sexual encounter was between 32-year-old Moore and 14-year-old Leigh Corfman:
Of the four women, the youngest at the time was Corfman, who is the only one who says she had sexual contact with Moore that went beyond kissing. She says they did not have intercourse.
In a written statement, Moore denied the allegations.
“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore, now 70, said.
The campaign said in a subsequent statement that if the allegations were true they would have surfaced during his previous campaigns, adding “this garbage is the very definition of fake news.” –Washington Post
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said the obvious: Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. (The Hill)
Alabama laws complicate any effort to step aside.
It’s unclear whether the Alabama state party will stand by the nominee, but Alabama law bars any candidate from withdrawing their name within 76 days of an election. That could present a situation where Moore’s name is on the ballot but he cannot be certified the winner if he wins, according to Alabama state law. –The Hill
The legal status of a write-in candidate is unclear, according to The Hill.
In short, this scandal involves
- Serious allegations
- Multiple named sources
- Denial by Moore
- No easy solutions for the Republicans, even if Moore withdraws
Comment: With such a thin majority in the Senate, the Republicans’ loss here would imperil their already-tottering legislative program.
Moore was a terrible candidate before this. Rude, crude, and utterly ignorant of policy issues, as I wrote about him after he won the Republican primary (link here). Of course, I knew nothing then about these disturbing allegations, which seem credible.
This story will move rapidly, I’m sure. It’s cannot sit where it is now, after the Post story. Others will investigate, and the pressure on Moore will be enormous.