- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Congress has paid out more than $265,000 in sexual harassment or sex discrimination settlements through its secretive Office of Compliance over the last decade, according to new data made public Tuesday.

The numbers are part of a public accounting demanded by leaders after reports of the office being used to hush up accusers who felt they were maltreated by members of Congress.

The money spanned 10 settlements stretching from 2008 through this November.

About half of that money, paid out from 2013 through November, had already been made public earlier this month. But the numbers from 2008 to 2012 were new Tuesday.

Across all complaints against lawmakers, the compliance office paid out more than $700,000 during the 10 years. About $342,000 of that came in the first five years, and nearly $360,000 came from 2013 on.

None of the names of the lawmakers involved in the settlements was revealed in the data, made public by House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper, who is leading a probe into the use of the compliance fund and other ways Congress has hushed up complaints.

“As I have stated from the beginning of this review, one case of sexual harassment is one case too many. We must create a culture within our Capitol Hill community that instills in every employee and employer, new and old, that there is no place for sexual harassment in the halls of Congress,” Mr. Harper said in a statement releasing the data.

The compliance fund had reportedly paid out more than $17 million over the last 20 years in settlements, but it appears much of that money was for workplace safety and hazardous environment issues such as asbestos claims and the post-Sept. 11, 2001, anthrax attack.

The actual number of harassment and sex discrimination claims and payouts is relatively small — though not insignificant.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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