Senate Republicans Withholding OOC Settlements Data
Info could include settlements for cases with sexual harassment allegations
The Republican chairmen of the Senate Rules and Appropriations Committees are not releasing data from the Congressional Office of Compliance that give a statistical breakdown of workplace settlements involving Senate offices dating back two decades.
These settlements could include — but would not be limited to — cases involving claims of sexual harassment or discrimination, a flashpoint issue on Capitol Hill over the last two months.
Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Rules Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama obtained the data after requesting it from the OOC, multiple news outlets reported Thursday.
Cochran’s office is still trying to get clarity on the data from the OOC, a Cochran spokesman told NBC News.
Shelby has withheld the information due to potential confidentiality requirements.
“The Senate Rules Committee has received a statistical breakdown of settlement amounts involving Senate employing offices from 1997-2017 from the Office of Compliance. At this time, the Chairman is concerned with the reliability of the data provided by the Office of Compliance and the extent to which that data may implicate the various confidentiality requirements of the Congressional Accountability Act,” committee spokeswoman Blair Bailey Taylor said in a statement to NBC.
Sen. Tim Kainehas tried unsuccessfully to procure the data from the OOC in the hopes of releasing it to the public.
The House Administration Committee has taken a more transparent course of action.
Chairman Gregg Harperhas released two sets of aggregate data dating to 2008 that protect victims’ and offices’ identities but reveals the underlying charges and amounts of each settlement.
House offices have spent $199,000 of taxpayer money on four sexual harassment settlements through the OOC Awards and Settlement Fund since 2008, the data shows.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking member of the Rules Committee, asked Shelby to pull back the curtain on the harassment numbers, Politico reported Thursday.