Utah congressman wants to change the law so victims who get settlements can publicly identify sexual harassers on Capitol Hill

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune U.S. Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention, Saturday, May 19, 2017.

As sexual misconduct allegations pervade the nation’s capital, Rep. Chris Stewart has introduced a new bill to amend a 1995 law that keeps confidential any harassment complaints filed against members of Congress.

The Utah Republican’s Victims’ Voice and Transparency Act, unveiled Wednesday alongside co-sponsor Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., would prohibit nondisclosure agreements as a condition for a legal settlement. In opening the process for handling accusations on Capitol Hill, victims could choose whether to publicly name their alleged harassers.

“Victims of sexual misconduct deserve a voice,” Stewart said in a statement, “and the American people deserve the utmost level of transparency.”

He, too, condemned the “culture of silence” that has begun to change over the past two months, roiling Hollywood and Washington, steamrolling a handful of statehouses, and spreading elsewhere.

Accusations of sexual misconduct ostracized entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein this fall, leading to a flurry of accusations against such stars as Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor and Matt Lauer.

In the political world, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama allegedly had inappropriate relationships with teenage girls while he was a district attorney. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is under investigation after allegedly harassing aides. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has been accused of groping several women without consent.

Earlier this week, Stewart had called for the names of all federal lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct to be released. His Utah colleague, Republican Rep. Mia Love, the only woman in Utah’s delegation, proposed banning Congress from spending taxpayer money to settle lawsuits.

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