Has Congress Spent $200 Million On Sexual Harassment Settlements?

Sometimes, fake news can come from multiple sources. Last month, conservative activist Candance Owens stated that Congress has spent “over 200 million dollars in 200 settlements” on allegations of sexual misconduct and affairs since 1998. However, this is simply not accurate.

Reviewing Owens’ Assertion

The Turning Point USA communications director posted the following tweet last year:

As previously stated, Owens’ assertions are simply factually inaccurate. Between the fiscal years of 1997 and 2017, the United States government paid over $17 million dollars towards various settlements and awards. The aforementioned settlements are not merely limited to cases of sexual misconduct and extramarital affairs; the payments also involved payment issues, racial discrimination, and issues within the workplace. Furthermore, agencies which share ties to Congress have also been involved; one prime example of such is the Capitol Police.

Additional Details

Owens’ tweet regarding Congressional management of sexual assault and affairs came shortly after the sentencing of Michael Cohen. Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, will commence serving his three-year jail sentence for his commission of various white collar crimes. These crimes include bank fraud, tax fraud, and, of course, campaign finance violations.
Ultimately, Cohen wound up pleading guilty to making payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, women who allegedly engaged in extramarital affairs with Donald Trump between 2006 and 2007. The payments were designed to be hush money and Cohen furthermore stated that Trump ordered him to make the aforementioned payments. The president, however, not only denied having affairs with McDougal and Daniels, but moreover maintains that he never ordered Cohen to break any laws.

Historical Background

The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) was successfully passed by Congress in 1995. The CAA allowed for labor, health, civil rights, and workplace safety laws to be applied to the legislative branch of government. Moreover, the Office of Compliance (OOC) was established for the purpose of conducting this legislation, while the Treasury Department had the task of forking over the owed awards and settlements.
In 2017, the OOC stated that that CAA paid out 264 awards/settlements between the fiscal years of 1997 and 2017. Mathematically, this amounts to a grand total of $17.2 million dollars, a far cry from the supposed $200 million dollars which Owens declared in her tweet. The cases tied to the various awards and settlements extended beyond cases of extramarital affairs and accusations of sexual assault. Discrimination cases were rampant, as were issues regarding contracts and monetary compensation for work.
These 264 payouts were not broken down by the nature of the allegation, but they include more than just sexual harassment claims. Cases involving discrimination on the basis of race, age or disability, as well as disputes dealing with contracts or pay are covered under the CAA.

Candace Owens did not cite any sources to substantiate her claims.

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What do you think about Owens’ statement compared with the documented facts? Let us know in the comments section below!

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