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Rep. Luke Messer wants taxpayers off the hook for Congressional sexual harassment settlements

Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN) says he will introduce legislation to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims with members of Congress and to protect the victims of that harassment.

Messer’s announcement comes amid a wave of public scrutiny over the alleged actions of high-profile men like Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) and former Alabama Supreme Court justice and current Republican senate nominee Roy Moore.

It also follows a report by the Associated Press earlier this month that the federal government has paid out more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the past 20 years to resolve claims of sexual harassment, overtime pay disputes and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.

Messer, who was elected for his third term in 2016, said in a statement that his bill would “ensure victims aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements.”

“It’s not OK that taxpayer money is used to silence victims of sexual harassment,” Messer said. “If these victims want to tell their story, they should be empowered to do so.”

Messer says his bill would release Congressional staff from current non-disclosure agreements signed as part of a sexual assault settlements with a member of Congress.

A draft of the proposed bill was not released with the congressman’s statement Monday, and no timetable was given for when it might be introduced.

Messer is among a number of Republicans, including Rep. Todd Rokita and businessman Mike Braun, seeking their party’s nomination to face off against Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the 2018 midterm elections. Greg Pence, the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence, has filed his candidacy for Messer’s 6th District seat – the same district his brother represented for 12 years while in Congress.

MORE | Greg Pence, VP Mike Pence’s brother, files paperwork indicating run for Congress

The Associated Press reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan will push for legislation requiring anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members of Congress and their staffs.

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