Farenthold Case Prompts Talk About Sexual Harassment on Capitol Hill

Cloakroom buzzed about sexual harassment as the House Ethics Committee announced its next step on Farenthold's case. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

"What do you do if you're being sexually harassed in your office?" one user asked Monday morning on the anonymous Capitol Hill social-networking app Cloakroom.  

It prompted one person, identifying himself as a 26-year-old male working for a 40-year-old female chief of staff, to share his own situation.  

The Ashley Madison Fallout: How Will Staffers Fare?

Capitol Hill offices must decide how to handle staffers caught in the Ashley Madison hack. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Information is still coming in about the people and technology devices connected to the Ashley Madison website, which promotes extramarital affairs. But several former staffers and current public relations professionals think a link from a House office to the site could be a job-ending offense, especially if the member of Congress feels the negative press will go over poorly with constituents.  

“Putting the member of Congress and the office in a bad position with voters back home because of bad personal choices is definitely a fire-able offense,” said Ron Bonjean, a former chief of staff to the Senate Republican Conference and communications director for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and now a partner with Rokk Solutions.  

Hill Staffers, This Is Why Gmail Exists

The laptop may be yours, but the .gov email address isn't. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Ashley Madison hack is already embarrassing plenty of people , including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Capitol Police and a handful of House offices.  

But the sheer number of ".gov" and ".mil" addresses listed — 15,000 — should raise more than a few eyebrows in Capitol Hill circles. Even as some security experts cast doubt on the authenticity of the leak, it will be a headache for affected offices to sort out. And with good reason.  

Maureen McDonnell Offers Cautionary Tale for Congressional Spouses

Maureen McDonnell offers a cautionary tale for Congress about the spouse's role. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Virginia’s former first lady, Maureen McDonnell, is heading to prison for a year and a day after she was found guilty of trading favors in return for loans, vacations and gifts. Her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, has also been sentenced and is appealing the ruling. A onetime GOP star, his career is likely over.  

Much went wrong for the McDonnells. But there is one aspect members of Congress should note: A spouse’s lack of understanding of, or disregard for ethics rules can have disastrous consequences. Bob McDonnell spent years in the public eye, which came with a reasonable expectation he would be familiar with ethics rules and hire a staff suitable to the job; his wife had no such expectation. She lacked in the areas that could have protected her: She did not have the background or understanding to prepare her for the very public role of being Virginia’s first lady, and she was said to be difficult to work with and distrustful of staff, leaving them unable to advise her when she showed poor judgment.  

The Era of Cold Calling Has Ended

Cold calling: not so effective anymore. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

There’s something to be said for gumption: the go-get-'em attitude that shrinks the power distance between junior staffers and the far senior authorities. But how does one bridge that divide and advance a career in the process? Hill Navigator discusses.

Social Media Rules on Capitol Hill: What Not To Do

Schock. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Benjamin Cole, spokesperson for Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., has resigned after his racially charged Facebook comments surfaced on the ThinkProgress website. From Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill :

Tough Lessons Learned for Staffer Resigning Over First Daughters Comments

Another Capitol Hill staffer learns the rough lesson of the power of words and social media.  

Elizabeth Lauten , communications director to Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., resigned after her disparaging comments about Sasha and Malia Obama went viral over the holiday weekend.  

Your 15 Minutes of Fame With Stu Rothenberg

My colleague Nathan Gonzales has a must-read out today for any Capitol Hill or campaign flack looking to set up interviews for their boss/candidate: How to Ruin Your Interview With Stu Rothenberg. Gonzales writes:  

Over the course of the past 25 years, Stu has garnered somewhat of a reputation of being a “hard” interview. And some party strategists and consultants probably have more colorful adjectives than that. Those are also probably the same folks who prepare their candidates for the alleged onslaught they will face when stepping into The Rothenberg Political Report offices. But I’ll be honest with you, Stu is more bark than bite, and if candidates come in and act and talk like normal human beings, the vast majority come out on the other side unscathed. But there are a few ways that a candidate can virtually guarantee a less than ideal outcome. Hill Navigator agrees on all of Gonzales' points, but wants to add one more à la Barry Sanders: Act like you've been there before . Because to Stu, you (and your story) probably have. Stu has been in this business long enough to see it all: your fundraising numbers, your campaign team, your home-state newspaper endorsements -- it's not news to him. And he's impervious to spin, so what can you do?  

Staffer Benefits Under Fire -- From Members of Congress

Who said there was no drama in government work? How about when staffer health care benefits are coming under fire from lawmakers?  Seems odd that the men and women trusted to run the government want to yank insurance coverage from their own staff, who largely make approximately 20 percent less  than the competitive wages for their work.  It may not be an episode of "Scandal," but it's frightening just the same.  

My colleague, Hannah Hess , reports on this for Roll Call's newest blog, Hill Blotter :

Staffer Fail: Vance McAllister's Infidelity Offers Valuable Lesson

We all make mistakes.  

And when staffers make mistakes — like being caught on camera necking with your boss — the fallout is particularly scintillating.