A number of female members of Congress told the Associated Press on Friday they had been sexually harassed by male colleagues in incidents that occurred years or even decades ago. They declined to identify the men responsible.
“When I was a very new member of Congress in my early 30s, there was a more senior member who outright propositioned me, who was married, and despite trying to laugh it off and brush it aside, it would repeat. And I would avoid that member,” Rep. Linda Sanchez told the news organization.
Sanchez said a different male colleague stared at her once and, she said, touched her inappropriately, but tried to make it appear accidental. Sanchez refused to name either man because she said she doesn’t “think it would be helpful.”
“The problem is, as a member there's no HR (human resources) department you can go to, there's nobody you can turn to. Ultimately they're employed by their constituents,” she said.
Another congresswoman, Mary Bono, told the AP a male colleague told her he’d been thinking about her in the shower. Bono said she confronted the colleague and he didn’t make any more suggestive comments.
“It is a man's world, it's still a man's world,” Bono said. “Not being a flirt and not being a bitch. That was my rule, to try to walk that fine line.”
She declined to name the colleague, but said he is still serving in Congress
Former Rep. Hilda Solis said she received from a male colleague what the AP referred to as “repeated unwanted harassing overtures.” She, too, declined to name the colleague or detail exactly what those overtures included.
“It's humiliating, even though they may have thought they were being cute. No, it's not. It's not appropriate. I'm your colleague, but he doesn't see me that way, and that's a problem,” Solis said.