Taxpayers paid $17+M in Congress’ hush-money settlements

The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995 requires Congress and legislative branch entities to follow many of the same employment and workplace laws applied to private business and the rest of the Federal Government.

In all, 13 civil rights, labor, and workplace safety laws are applied by the CAA:

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
  2. Federal Labor Relations Act
  3. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  4. Americans with Disabilities Act
  5. Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  6. Family and Medical Leave Act
  7. Fair Labor Standards Act
  8. Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  9. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act
  10. Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  11. Veterans’ employment and reemployment rights under Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code.
  12. Veterans Employment Opportunities Act
  13. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

CAA’s purpose is to protect over 30,000 employees of the legislative branch, including the following:

  • House of Representatives and the Senate (both Washington, D.C. and state district office staff)
  • Office of the Architect of the Capitol
  • U.S. Capitol Police
  • Office of Congressional Accessibility Services
  • Congressional Budget Office
  • Office of the Attending Physician
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Library of Congress
  • Office of Compliance

The last legislative branch entity , the Office of Compliance (OOC), was created by CAA as an independent office to administer and enforce the Act, and to manage complaints and disputes involving “legislative branch entities” through an early resolution procedure of counseling, mediation, hearings, deliberations, and monetary “awards or settlements” — all of which are confidential.

Sexual harassment, abuse or rape are among the complaints and disputes involving legislative branch entities.

The money for the “awards and settlements” is drawn from a special account in the U.S. Treasury, created by Section 415 of the Congressional Accountability Act, under which the OOC is authorized to appropriate “such sums as may be necessary to pay such awards and settlements.” OOC’s executive director approves all such awards and settlements.

We do not know how much money is that “special account”. According to Section 1415 of CAA:

There are appropriated for such account such sums as may be necessary to pay such awards and settlements.

But we do know how much the OOC, that is taxpayers, paid in “awards and settlements” from 1997 to 2017 — a whopping $17.24 million.

That was revealed in a November 16, 2017 memorandum by Susan Tsui Grundmann, Executive Director of the Office of Compliance.

In the memo, Grundmann states that although the CAA does not require the OOC to release award and settlement figures:

“However, based on the volume of recent inquiries regarding payment of awards and settlements reached under the CAA, I am releasing these figures beginning with Fiscal Year 1997, up to and including FY 2017.”

By “volume of recent inquiries regarding payment of awards and settlements,” Grundmann was alluding to inquiries provoked by recent news concerning Congressmen Al Franken’s and John Conyers’ sexual misconduct.

Below is a table of settlements and awards paid by the Office of Compliance from 1997 to 2017 (click to enlarge). Note that I added the following to the table:

  • The words “HR – Senate” for the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
  • The letters “R” (Republican) and “D” (Democrat) to indicate the majority party in control of the House or Senate that year.
  • The red circles.
  • The last line in the table: “Total 1997-2017 / 264 / $17,240,854”

As you can see from the table:

  • 2007 was the worst year, with the highest number of settlements (25) and the largest amount in total settlements and awards ($4,053,274), averaging $162,130 per settlement.
  • 2002 is notable for the largest amount paid to each complainant — an average of $397,407 to each of the ten complainants.

Grundmann would not divulge which legislative entities were involved, or which member of Congress was accused of wrongdoing, or what the payoff was for. She writes:

AA large portion of cases originate from employing offices in the legislative branch other than the House of Representatives or the Senate, and involve various statutory provisions incorporated by the CAA, such as the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The statistics on payments are not further broken down into specific claims because settlements may involve cases that allege violations of more than one of the 13 statutes incorporated by the CAA.”

Indeed, the Office of Compliance is under no obligation to inform the American people. This is what is stated on OOC’s “Contact Us” webpage:

The Office of Compliance is part of the legislative branch and is therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The Office of Compliance is a part of Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government, with a 5-member, non-partisan Board of Directors who, in turn, appoint OOC’s executive staff, including its executive director. Susan Tsui Grundmann became Executive Director of the Office of Compliance in January 2017. Here’s her contact information:

John Adams Building
110 2nd Street SE, Room LA 200
Washington, DC 20540-1999
Phone: 202-724-9250
Fax: 202-426-1913

You should be outraged by this.

We, the taxpayers, paid $17.24 million (1997-2017) in hush money for Congress’ misdeeds. We have the right to be told the names of the miscreants, what they did, how much each has cost taxpayers, and how much is in that secret slush fund.

To contact your representatives in Congress, click here.

See als0:

Update:

Reacting to taxpayers’ outrage about the hush-money slush-fund, three bills have been introduced in Congress to address this issue:

  1. A bill requiring lawmakers to pay back the funds, and have the amounts posted on a government website.
  2. A bill to stop the use of tax payer money and have the lawmakers face possible expulsion.
  3. A bill requiring lawmakers in past cases pay back the funds with interest, stop future payments, and ban non-disclosure agreements.

~Eowyn

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10 responses to “Taxpayers paid $17+M in Congress’ hush-money settlements

  1. Reblogged this on kommonsentsjane and commented:

    Reblogged on kommonsentsjane/blogkommonsents.

    Many congressmen were interviewed and asked about this slush fund and not one of them said they knew about this fund. Could that be possible since the money of money given out is HUGE? And, where does it show up or hidden in the budget? What is the total amount budgeted?

    Could it be the congressmen who gave out money to their staff were in collusion and then split the funds? Something smells to high Heaven.

    FOLKS, THIS IS TAXPAYER MONEY THEY ARE STEALING FROM US.

    How many more slush funds does the government have and are protected from the outside by hiding monies?

    The Office of Compliance is part of the legislative branch and is therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

    See how they protect themselves from over sight!

    kommonsentsjane

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would like to know where and how long ALL the WE THE PEOPLE’S tax payers money, embezzled by the government and supposedly representing us, WHERE HAS THE MONEY GONE? Only to be known when caught, they don’t go to jail, they simply retire or leave the post and live a comfy, secluded life, and travel, enjoy life, and do they and their families enjoy the benefits i.e medical, retirement, etc. etc etc that WE THE PEOPLE HAVE TO PAY FOR? crooks, thieves, way to go!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The real question is how did this slush fund get started . . . that it took a decade to surface. This is an absolute travesty.

    Thankfully, that old fart Conyers, who could not keep his clothes on, has resigned as of today. Any monies that were paid out as hush money for his dalliances, should be withheld from his pension, plus accrued interest. Every single slug who cost us the taxpayers hush monies out of taxpayers money name needs to go on a list and made public.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Update:

    Reacting to taxpayers’ outrage about the hush-money slush-fund, three bills have been introduced in Congress to address this issue:

    (1) A bill requiring lawmakers to pay back the funds, and have the amounts posted on a government website.
    (2) A bill to stop the use of tax payer money and have the lawmakers face possible expulsion.
    (3) A bill requiring lawmakers in past cases pay back the funds with interest, stop future payments, and ban non-disclosure agreements.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Eowyn . . . that is the very best news. Let’s hope that the GOP members of Congress will pass it. I am somewhat dubious that the Dems will be voting for this kind of measure, unless they feel that they might lose their next election for having the appearance of being willing to “go along with stealing from the US taxpayers.”

      I hope that this will pass very promptly. Let’s just hope that not too many of these reprobates have kicked the bucket, so that there will be monies available to claw back.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We the people are owed so much money back, starting with the government taking our social security money. This quiet pay off thing has got to stop, we are not the Bank for the Goverment. That is our money and we were not consulted. You get in trouble, you own it.
    We still have not been told where half the stimulus money is, the six billion Clinton lost, the 20 green energy companies that went belly up. Even after we found out Obama gave Solyndra 525 million and they failed, he gave them another 35 million, why, who pocketed that? Where did the money go the Obama sneakingly put into a quiet DOJ fund to dole out at his discretion? It has been said to be in the billions. What about the money for selling off empty government buildings? Certain Goverment officials mates handled the sales. The list is long and continues.
    The fraud, waste and crazy spending and payoffs has to stop.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glenn47 . . . . Bravo! You have called this mess correctly. I just wonder if someone totaled us all “The fraud, waste and crazy spending, and payoffs” what the dollar amount would possibly be. I certainly would like to see our National Debt start to be paid down.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Auntie. I think it might have been Coburn that wrote a book was the fraud and waste and it is absolutely numbing, the dumb stuff we have paid for. If you can get a hold of some of the entries it would be worthy.
        And the 17 million listed above, is just what has been uncovered so far. How much has been hidden elsewhere?

        Like

  6. I just wonder what would happen if the money just dried up……

    Like

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