Evidence reveals that another Democrat used a secret congressional “slush fund” to settle sexual harassment allegations, according to a report.
Although Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) was not accused of sexual harassment himself, a former staffer accused him of firing her in 2006 for reporting alleged sexual harassment by someone who worked for one of Meeks’s donors.
Andrea Payne, who worked out of the New York Democrat’s district office in Queens, sued Meeks after she said she was fired for filing a complaint with the Office of Compliance.
The agency within Congress has drawn bipartisan criticism for using taxpayer funds to settle sexual harassment, discrimination, and other workplace violations during the past two decades.
“This is an action to recover for damages sustained by plaintiff when Representative Meeks violated her Constitutional rights by retaliating against her, and ultimately terminating her employment, because of her sexual assault lawsuit,” Payne’s attorneys wrote.
Payne sued a physical therapy practice, where she claimed one of the employees sexually harassed her. The business owner donated to Meeks and confronted the congressman about Payne’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Meeks told Payne he would not pay her overtime for any extra hours she put in, and other staffers would allegedly verbally abuse her and refuse to reimburse her for expenses.
Payne then went to the Office of Compliance to file her complaint. Less than two weeks after she filed the complaint, Meeks fired her and told her, “I don’t think this is working,” according to the lawsuit.
Embattled Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) also used the “slush fund” to settle a sexual harassment claim. The Michigan Democrat reportedly paid the woman $27,000.
Ironically, the news about Meeks’s using the same fund as his colleague Conyers comes after Meeks asked for Conyers to step down from his position because of the sexual harassment allegations.