I had an idea today that got some positive response on Twitter and I think it warrants more discussion. It’s a simple idea in response to the recent revelation that taxpayers have been shelling out to settle sexual harassment complaints against members of Congress. In short, if you send a creep to Congress, you’re responsible for cleaning up his messes. It’s not fair to distribute that responsibility to the rest of the American taxpayers.
If taxpayers are going to be on the hook for paying off settlements when politicians misbehave, I propose that the money should come entirely from the state or district that sent the offender to Washington.
— Jim "Jim" Jamitis (@anthropocon) November 29, 2017
Arguably, no one should be paying to bail out the dirtbags other than the dirtbags themselves, but in any other employment situation, employers take on a certain amount of legal responsibility for the actions of their employees. The primary differences are that 1) the employers are made aware of the employee’s behavior and 2) have the authority to take disciplinary action against the employee in order to prevent future offenses. The system that was being used in Congress denied both of those tradeoffs to the employers (i.e. the offender’s constituents).
Some in Congress are proposing legislation requiring that the names of politicians who have used taxpayer dollars to settle harassment complaints be made public. This is a good idea but it doesn’t go far enough. It fixes the problem of the employers’ being denied knowledge of the employee’s actions but it doesn’t give them any real power to rectify the matter.
It also doesn’t distribute the legal responsibility fairly. We’re supposed to be all about fairness these days, right? Well, it’s not fair if Joe Schmudlap of Umptysquat, North Dakota has to share the burden of paying off the victims of a creepy congress critter from Lower Slobbovia, Arkansas.
The Voter Responsibility and Pervert Politician Reduction Act will require the following:
- The names of any members of Congress currently being accused, investigated, sued, or prosecuted for misconduct of a criminal or sexually perverted nature shall be made public in the Federal Register.
- The dollar amount of any settlement resulting from said misconduct shall be the financial responsibility of the state or district that sent the offender to Congress.
- The dollar amount shall be divided evenly between every living person within the state or district who was of legal voting age at the time of the offender’s last election to Congress.
- Each constituent’s individual share of the bill shall be payable no later than ten business days prior to the last day to register to vote in the offender’s next election.
- Constituents will be within their rights to file class-action suits against the offending politician to recoup their losses plus any punitive damages they can successfully argue for in court.
I think we could make some progress toward cleaning out the hive of scum and villainy with this sort of legislation while boosting voter registration and participation in problematic districts that tend to elect creeps.