In his latest Metro Pulse column
, Frank Cagle offers advice to lawmakers who are now supposed to be revising their sexual harassment policy (as per vote of the House Ethics Committee yesterday). Things aren't as bad as they used to be at the Capitol, Cable observes. ("There are more churchgoers and fewer drunken louts.")
You no longer hear stories like the one about the House member back in the 1990s who got a staffer drunk and parked on a lonely road. While she was throwing up out the window, he ran the electric window up, trapping her under the chin. Then he pulled up her skirt and had sex with her. He's gone, as is the legislator whose colleagues exited a club one night to discover he had a naked intern spread-eagled on the hood of his Cadillac.
Still, lawmakers have got to be worrying a lot lately. Is there a file drawer somewhere full of secret sexual harassment memos?
If other people do things to anger their colleagues, will other memos see the light of day? I do know that some of the members, over the years, have had their offices "swept" to discover if any bugs might be planted. And they weren't worried about the FBI either. Perhaps they were just being paranoid. But when the official policy is secrecy it tends to foster paranoia.
Having been outed by a memo, perhaps Williams should step up and change the policy. Let it be known that all allegations of improper behavior will be investigated by a discreet subcommittee, something like the Board of Professional Responsibility that governs attorneys, and then quashed or released. If there is wrongdoing, it needs to be made public. If it is a spurious allegation, it needs to be quashed.
We don't need a system where the possibility exists of secret files that either cover up wrongdoing or are there to keep members in limbo about whether the hammer might fall on them should they get out of line.