Black: Tennessee, Congress should release sexual harassment claims

In this March 10, 2017 file photo, House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Republicans on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, unveiled a budget that makes deep cuts in food stamps and other social safety net programs while boosting military spending by billions, a blueprint that pleases neither conservatives nor moderates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Representative Diane Black is calling on state and federal lawmakers to release information regarding sexual harassment claims and settlements involving elected leaders and their staffers.

According to The Tennessean, she said victims should be released from their non-disclosure agreements and the accused identified publicly.

“Veils of secrecy only serve to protect the perpetrators,” she told the news outlet in an emailed statement. “Full transparency and accountability is the only way to allow victims to heal and to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The Tennessean reported that in the past 20 years, Congress has paid out $17 million in regards to harassment complaints.

Black’s request follows last year’s expulsion of state Representative Jeremy Durham. A state attorney general investigation accused Durham of inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women.

Governor Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Black said she supports legislation by Tennessee U.S. Representatives Jim Cooper and Marsha Blackburn to name federal lawmakers who settled harassment cases and force them to repay tax dollars used in settlements.