American attorney and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley appeared on Fox News recently to discuss the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Democratic Rep. John Conyers and others on Capitol Hill. Turley says many politicians in Washington “put their ethics on layaway during the Clinton presidency, and that bill is suddenly due.”
Conyers settled a complaint — using taxpayer money — against a former staffer who says she was fired for rejecting his sexual advances. But he is not the only lawmaker to do this. Last week, it was revealed that taxpayers have been on the hook for these types of settlements since 1995, to the tune of about $15 million.
Washington has one great speciality, and that is managing scandal. They are the world's experts at it.Jonathan Turley
Yet for over 20 years, none of this was reported to the public, and these harassment scandals were kept under wraps.
“Washington has one great speciality, and that is managing scandal. They are the world’s experts at it,” says Turley. “They find ways to send things to ethics committees to try to kick this can down the road until the public loses interest.”
Things are different, however. Sexual harassment scandals are popping up every day now, from Hollywood actors, to US lawmakers, to Disney executives. The whole thing has blown up so broadly, over so many industries, that these things are not going to go away so easily.
“What we are seeing now are a lot of these members are really facing a situation where the bill has come due,” says Turley.
“Members who say they are absolutely aghast that there were settlements for people like Conyers — You know, the public has got to really stop being such chumps. This was a system designed to keep these types of settlements and allegations a secret. And if members are expressing disbelief and anger now, it’s not very convincing.”
What do you think? Is he right? Watch the full interview above.