WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz released a statement in response to the exposure of $17.2 million in secret settlements made with taxpayer money to resolve sexual harassment and discrimination cases through a convoluted process, as well as revelations that members of Congress have used their office budgets to hide their misconduct:
"The use of taxpayer funds to secretly settle cases of misconduct by members of Congress is simply wrong. Sunlight and transparency are essential to hold them accountable. CAGW calls on Congress to make public information related to settled cases or where there is a finding of discrimination, including the name of the member of Congress involved in such matters.
"Furthermore, we call on Congress to change the rules to make it easier to file and pursue a complaint. The process is daunting and complex, and is clearly intended to dissuade employees from making claims. For example, unlike the executive branch, mediation is voluntary, not mandatory. Counseling, which could make victims feel like they are at fault for the harassment, is also mandatory, unlike the private sector.
"This bipartisan crisis of conscience can only be rectified if there is greater transparency and the system is reformed to be fair to all parties. Since the late 1980s, there have been various internal processes set up by to consider discrimination and harassment complaints, but Congress has never applied Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to itself. CAGW calls on Congress at this important moment to establish a fair and impartial review process that provides employees with rights like those provided under Title VII. All information regarding settled cases or those where there is a finding of discrimination should be made public in a timely manner so that taxpayers, and voters, can make their own judgments."
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.