Mike Coffman wants to keep taxpayers from footing the bill for congressional sexual harassment settlements

Author: Ernest Luning - December 5, 2017 - Updated: December 4, 2017

Mike Coffman for veterans(Photo byJack Dempsey/AP file)

Under legislation co-sponsored Monday by U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, taxpayer funds could no longer be spent to settle sexual harassment claims against members of Congress.

The Colorado Republican signed on to legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican, called the Stop Taxpayer Obligations to Perpetrators of Sexual Harassment Act, his office said Monday.

“I find it unconscionable that taxpayer dollars have been spent to settle sexual harassment cases on behalf of members of Congress,” Coffman said in a statement. “As public servants, entrusted with taxpayer dollars, this is simply unacceptable.”

The legislation arrives amid a flurry of sexual harassment and assault accusations in recent months in the entertainment, media and political worlds.

Congress, it turns out, has paid $17.2 million over the past two decades to settle more than 250 claims of sexual harassment and other discrimination and workplace complaints, according to a report released two weeks ago by the congressional Office of Compliance.

“Taxpayers should not be paying to settle these cases, just because the accused happens to be a member of Congress,” Love said in a release. “If someone behaves badly, the consequences to those actions are that person’s responsibility, and no one else’s.”

Love’s bill is one of a handful released in recent weeks to prohibit spending public money to settle sexual harassment claims against lawmakers. Another, the bipartisan Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act, goes further, also prohibiting non-disclosure agreements that have been attached to previous settlements.


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.