Sexual Harassment in Congress.

Sexual Harassment in Congress.

As a woman, the sexual assault and harassment claims emerging across this country are hardly surprising.

On my first day in the courtroom as a lawyer, a judge made a crack about my looks. But that was nothing compared to what I had to endure from customers, managers, and fellow employees as I worked my way through college and law school scrubbing dishes, waiting tables and cleaning hotel rooms.

Sexual harassment, assault and uncomfortable, unwanted advances are an unfortunate reality that women have had to accept in their personal and professional lives. So it’s not any surprise that these abhorent behaviors are occurring within campaigns and government offices, on both sides of the aisle.

But elected officials, especially, occupy a unique position in the public trust. Our leaders must be held to a higher standard – even if that standard is basic decency and respect – which is why the claims about Congressman John Conyers are so disturbing.

These reports, which include affidavits from four women, show a history of harassment that has no place in any workplace, never mind Congress.

That some kind of compensation was made to quiet these victims at the taxpayer’s dime adds to the concern.

There is no reason we should hold Rep. Conyers to a different standard than any TV show personality, movie mogul, or corporate leader. In fact, we must hold him (and every elected official on both sides) to a higher standard.

For that reason, given everything I’ve read and seen, Rep. Conyers should resign.

Looking forward, I’m supportive of Rep. Jackie Speier’s efforts to create tighter sexual harassment protocols within Congress. As representatives of the public trust, we must lead on this issue and be the first to clean house when there is a problem.

Thank you for your support,

 – Mary Barzee Flores