Loebsack, Blum say no tax dollars to settle harassment claims

Lawmakers say they'll back legislation to stop this practice

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JOHNSTON — An Iowa member of Congress will work to change U.S. House rules to require members and their staffs to pay settlements with people who accuse them of sexual misconduct.

“Taxpayers should not be on the hook for misdeeds that members of Congress or their staff commit,” Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, of Iowa City, said about a report by the Washington Post that $17 million has been paid out over the past 20 years to settle workplace misconduct claims made against members of Congress and their staffs.

“It is not an appropriate use of taxpayer money,” Loebsack said. “In fact, I’m going to be doing what I can to change the rules on that.”

Loebsack, who said he was “appalled” by the use of tax dollars to pay these settlements, said the names of representatives and their staff members who commit these “egregious acts” ought to be made public “and we should make that person pay for whatever costs there may be associated with this particular action.”

Loebsack made his comments during taping of Iowa Press, which can be seen at 7:30 p.m. today on Iowa Public Television, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on IPTV World and online at IPTV.org.

Also Friday, 1st District Rep. Rod Blum told Radio Iowa he is “outraged” by news of the secret settlements.

“I had no idea that there was this settlement fund or ‘slush fund’ and I have no idea where that money comes from,” Blum said. “I am absolutely shocked to hear this, but it comes back to the swamp. That’s why I’ve been an advocate of draining the swamp. We need to expose these types of things.”

Like Loebsack, Blum said he will co-sponsor legislation to prohibit federal funds from being used to pay workplace misconduct claims.

“No more of that,” Blum said. “If you sexually harass somebody, you should be paying yourself, not the United States taxpayers.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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