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New Allegations of Sex Misconduct, This Time in Congress

Current and former female lawmakers, including Mary Bono, reveal past instances of harassment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2017 1:32 PM CDT
New Allegations of Sex Misconduct, This Time in Congress
In this Oct. 29, 2016, file photo, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., speaks to volunteers at a home serving as a canvassing site to train and organize supporters of then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(Newser) – For years, GOP Rep. Mary Bono endured increasingly suggestive comments from a fellow House lawmaker. But when the congressman approached her on the House floor and told her he'd been thinking about her in the shower, she confronted the man, who she said still serves in Congress, telling him his comments were wrong, and he backed off. Bono, who's no longer a representative, isn't alone. One current and three former female lawmakers tell the AP that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments, by fellow members of Congress. The incidents occurred years or decades ago, usually when the women were new to Congress. They range from isolated comments at one hearing, to repeated unwanted come-ons, to lewd remarks and even groping on the House floor.

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  • Former Sen. Barbara Boxer: The former California senator described an incident at a hearing in the 1980s where a male colleague made a sexually suggestive comment. The colleague, using the traditional congressional parlance, said he wanted to "associate" himself with her remarks—adding afterward that he also wanted to "associate with the gentle lady." It was met with laughter and even a "second," and Boxer asked to have the remark stricken from the record.
  • Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif: "When I was a very new member of Congress in my early 30s, there was a more senior member who outright propositioned me, who was married, and despite trying to laugh it off and brush it aside it, would repeat. And I would avoid that member," she said. She added that she would warn other new female members about the lawmaker in question, but she declined to identify him, while saying he remains in Congress. Sanchez also said that a different male colleague repeatedly ogled her, and at one point touched her inappropriately on the House floor, while trying to make it appear accidental. She declined to identify the lawmaker but said he was no longer in Congress.
  • Former Rep. Hilda Solis: The former California lawmaker recalls repeated unwanted harassing overtures from one lawmaker, though she declined to name him or go into detail. "I don't think I'm the only one. What I tried to do was ignore it, turn away, walk away. Obviously it's offensive."
Click for the full story, including the view of another female representative that the "women in Congress are big girls" and have to stop putting up with this behavior. (Read more sexual harassment stories.)

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