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- Women on Capitol Hill have a “creep list” of their male colleagues and superiors who are notorious for sexual misconduct, according to a CNN report.
- The women say they abide by a set of unwritten rules regarding their interactions with male bosses.
- Lawmakers, aides, and political operatives say there’s a pervasive culture of harassment and coercion of younger staffers on Capitol Hill by powerful men.
Female lawmakers, staffers, and interns have an informal word-of-mouth list – known as the “creep list”- of male lawmakers and staffers who are notorious for sexual misconduct, ranging from making inappropriate comments to pursuing sexual relationships with younger aides, CNN reported on Tuesday.
CNN spoke with more than 50 lawmakers, aides, and political operatives who testified to a pervasive culture of harassment and coercion of young women, in particular, by men in positions of power on Capitol Hill. Nearly every person who CNN spoke to said they had personally experienced sexual harassment on the Hill or know others who have.
“Amongst ourselves, we know,” a former Senate aide told CNN of sexual harassers. “There is a certain code amongst us, we acknowledge among each other what occurs.”
Women on the Hill say they abide by a set of unwritten rules regarding their interactions with male colleagues. These include avoiding solo elevator rides with male lawmakers and interns, remaining vigilant at late night meetings or events where alcohol is served, and not reporting harassment in order to hold on to a job.
“People [are] using their power without any self-control,” a former House staffer told CNN. “There are a lot of tales of these guys going out and behaving very badly with younger staffers.”
Another Senate aide called Congress “a sort of old school, Wild West workplace culture that has a lot of ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos and without the sort of standard professionalism that you find in more traditional workplaces.”
In recent weeks, several female lawmakers have spoken openly about harassment they faced from male lawmakers. On Monday, 1,500 former congressional aides signed an open letter calling for mandatory sexual harassment training for all lawmakers and staff and for a stronger system to handle allegations of abuse.
On Tuesday, two congresswomen accused sitting male lawmakers of sexual harassment and misconduct during a House hearing on sexual harassment policy.
Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican, told the story of an unnamed congressman who asked a female aide to deliver work materials to his home, greeted her dressed in towel, and proceeded to expose his genitals to her. The aide quickly left the congressman’s home and later quit her job.
Rep. Jackie Speier, who recently came forward with her own story of being sexually assaulted as a young congressional staffer, has introduced legislation to reform the House’s policies regarding sexual misconduct.