Speier Shares Own Sex Harassment Story, Calls Congress ‘Breeding Ground’

As part of an effort to call attention to the cumbersome procedure for reporting sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Friday shared the story of an unwanted sexual advance while working as a congressional staffer.

“Like so many of you, I have a ‘Me Too’ story to share. I was working as a congressional staffer. The chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,” Speier said in a video released Friday. “So I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside. I know what it’s like to lie in bed awake at night, wondering if I was the one who had done something wrong. I know what it’s like years later to remember that rush of humiliation and anger.”

“Many of us in Congress know what it’s like because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long,” she added.

Speier plans to introduce legislation to update the process for reporting sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill through the Office of Compliance, hoping to make it easier for staffers to report and address inappropriate behavior.

The congresswoman told Politico that the current system in place is “toothless” and “a joke.”

“There’s no accountability whatsoever,” she said. “It’s rigged in favor of the institution and the members, and we can’t tolerate that.”

Under the current system, victims must attend mediation or counseling for up to three months before they can file a complaint, and members and staffers are not required to attend sexual harassment training, per Politico.

Speier is pushing to change the system for reporting sexual harassment and assault on Capitol Hill after several high-profile men, including Harvey Weinstein, Leon Wieseltier, and Mark Halperin, have been accused of serial sexual misconduct.

Watch the video released by her office:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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