Before Congress gets too excited about President Trump’s alleged “hush money” payments, they might want to take a long hard look in the mirror.
Democrats and the liberal media are salivating over allegations that the president paid off women with his own money to keep them from discussing alleged affairs. For decades, though, members of Congress have been using your tax dollars to buy the silence of hundreds of sexual harassment and assault victims.
Members of Congress, until earlier this week, were protected by a legal apparatus known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which protected offenders in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and other federal agencies from public scrutiny using taxpayer-funded settlements that included confidentiality provisions.
That’s right. Members of Congress used the money they take from you to hide their dirty laundry, and got away with it for decades.
The Office of Compliance disclosed little to no information on these payouts, but has indicated that the fund paid victims more than $17 million since its creation. Overall, there have been 268 settlements, an average of roughly 11 per year that the American people had no clue about.
Take former Democrat Representative John Conyers, for example. Marion Brown, his former staffer, received a settlement of over $27,000 drawn from the U.S. Treasury after accusing Conyers of repeated unwanted sexual advances.
Then there’s Democrat Raul Grijalva, a sitting member of Congress, who gave a former staffer a $50,000 taxpayer-funded severance package that required the accuser to keep quiet.
Instead of working hard to pass legislation to correct this obvious abuse of power, though, Congress dithered until the optics of the issue became too powerful to ignore.
It’s no coincidence that Congress waited until now to pass legislation making such settlements public and requiring members to pay for them out of their own pockets.
Congress passed the bill just as rumors are swirling about the possible impeachment of President Trump for a far more innocuous type of payment. The president, after all, is only accused of trying to conceal consensual encounters with his own money, not using your money to keep a lid on far more egregious behavior — sexual harassment and assault — that members of Congress have been accused of.
Democrats who are getting ready to ratchet up the rhetoric against President Trump should remain wary, because even the “fix” passed by Congress includes glaring deficiencies. Significantly, it doesn’t require the public disclosure of previous cases in which members of Congress have used taxpayer dollars to silence their accusers.
This isn’t even a case of the pot calling the kettle black. If congressional Democrats have the gall to question the propriety of President Trump’s alleged payments to willing participants, it will be more like the pot calling the stainless steel mixing bowl black.
Bay Buchanan served as U.S. Treasurer under President Reagan and treasurer for his 1980 and 1984 campaigns. She managed Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo’s presidential campaigns and also served as a senior advisor to Mitt Romney in 2012. She is the author of Bay and Her Boys, The Unexpected Lessons I Learned as a Single Mom and The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.