Paying hush money to hide misbehavior

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So now we know: Congress uses your money to protect its own.

TWO HUNDRED SIXTY settled cases. Fifteen million dollars in payouts. No disclosures.

That's the toll in recent years for sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination instances in the United States Congress, according to elected members who are seeking a thorough reform of the antiquated system that serves primarily to protect incumbent politicians. Under that system when an accusation is leveled in Congress, the victim first must undergo a month of counseling. Then, unless the accusation is withdrawn, the matter moves to closed-door negotiation. If a settlement takes place a binding non-disclosure agreement is executed.

Congressional women pressing for reform now say two sitting members - a Republican and a Democrat - currently stand accused of sexual harassment.

Who knew? Bipartisanship is not dead.

THOSE WHO ASK their fellow Americans to hand them the reins of leadership should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens. Misconduct never should be tolerated - or hidden.

The idea that taxpayer hush money is paid out and non-disclosure is insisted upon to protect misbehaving public officials is repugnant. How long has this sort of thing been hidden at the Capitol?

We still believe this: Most people who go to Washington to serve in Congress are decent, well-meaning individuals. But they should be ashamed for apparently being complicit in covering up the misdeeds of others. That's why transparency is essential to freedom. Not because daylight makes bad people good, but because it makes their misbehavior harder to hide.

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