Heard on the Hill

Staffer Poll: Harassment on the Hill

Staffers reveal the most disturbing information to come out of sexual harassment stories

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., answers questions in November about his alleged sexual misconduct. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Stories about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, particularly involving members of Congress, have piled up in the past several months.

Roll Call polled people who anonymously identified themselves as congressional staffers about how these revelations have affected work life in Congress. The poll was conducted online Feb. 5-9.

The first question asked whether people on the Hill are more careful about what they say in the current climate and whether tone and language are taken into consideration more than before.

While 60 percent of those polled said people are more careful now, 33 percent said they saw no change. And 4 percent said things have gotten worse.


Of the 92 respondents, only half replied to the second question: Through the process of widely exposing sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, what has been the most disturbing thing you’ve learned?

A majority of the responses we received said the revelations weren’t surprising.

One person responded, “Nothing, which is sad.” Another said, “Already knew it,” while another respondent was surprised “that people didn’t realize how bad it is sooner.”

“I knew in abstract what was happening. I learned specific things that have happened to friends. The abstract is always easier to deal with than the personal,” one respondent wrote.

Another wrote, “Most staffers believe that it could happen within their own office. I’ve been a part of conversation [where] staffers have said ‘Oh if they found out what our boss does he’d be done for.’ Yet none of them think to say ‘we should maybe say something to stop this.’”

Some members who have been accused of harassment were mentioned by name.

One responded cited “the extent of Al Franken’s depravity,” while another said, “The personal relationships between members and staffers — Meehan and Franks — are particularly disturbing.”

Speaking of Rep. Trent Franks, a respondent wrote, “That a member of Congress actually thought it was OK to try and bribe his staffer with $5 million dollars so that she could have a baby with him.”

Another wrote, “The massive cover-up of John Conyers’ abuse of staffers for years. There’s no way he was able to make secret payments and hide them so long without the cooperation of leadership and Nancy Pelosi. Why has there been no investigation of her involvement in covering up abuse by Democratic members including Alcee Hastings, who is still in office?”

Watch: The #MeToo Impact on 2018

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