Black says she was sexually harassed as a state legislator

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, now a candidate for governor, says in a column written for Townhall that she suffered episodes of sexual harassment from “the good ol’ boy culture” while a state legislator years ago.

I remember my first year in the Tennessee House of Representatives. It was 1998, and having spent my career as a nurse and an educator, I had a lot to learn about the legislative process. I immediately figured out that the state House had a “good ol’ boy” culture – and learned about the inappropriate actions of some of my male colleagues.

One member always seemed to manage to get on the elevator with me, and proceed to back up until I was against the wall and he was pressed against me. I learned fairly quickly to cross my arms with my elbows out so they dug into his back. Another member rarely called me by name and addressed me only as “Nurse Goodbody.”  It was objectifying, disrespectful and highly inappropriate for any work setting.

In 2009, while I was Senate Caucus Chairman of the Tennessee state legislature, I called on one state senator, in my own party, to resign after learning of his affair with an intern. I firmly believe now what I believed then: as elected officials, we are public servants and must be held to the highest of standards.

… It has come to light that over the past 20 years, nearly $17 million has been paid out by the Congress’s Office of Compliance in various legal settlements, including discrimination and sexual harassment complaints. Using taxpayer dollars to settle those claims behind closed doors is despicable and serves to protect perpetrators while silencing victims.

…When I found out about these funds and payouts, I was extremely disturbed and joined my House colleagues in a bipartisan effort to bring transparency to allegations of sexual misconduct occurring on Capitol Hill.

The Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act, of which I am a co-sponsor, explicitly prohibits the future use of tax dollars to pay settlements in these cases. It publicly exposes perpetrators and requires them to reimburse taxpayers with interest for the funds they have used to settle claims.

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