Michael Bastasch on November 29, 2017
Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva demanded The Washington Times apologize for publishing an article revealing he used taxpayer dollars to pay off a former staffer who claimed his drinking created a hostile work environment.
The House Employment Counsel negotiated a deal to give a former female staffer $48,395 to not pursue a complaint that Grijalva was “frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment,” The Times published in a report Monday.
The former staffer got an additional five months salary, despite her only working for three months before leaving. The Times noted the settlement may have violated House rules.
Grijalva pushed back, saying The Times “owes me an apology,” Politico reported. Grijalva is the top Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“Last week, The Washington Times contacted me seeking comment on what it described as a sexual harassment claim that, in fact, had never been made,” Grijalva said, alleging The Times published “a misleading article trying to link me to sexual harassment complaints made against other people.”
“The terms were consistent with House Ethics Committee guidance,” Grijlava said of the agreement he reached with his former staffer. “The severance funds came out of my committee operating budget. Every step of the process was handled ethically and appropriately.”
News of Grijalva’s settlement comes amid a controversy over Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers’s use of taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim by a former staffer. At least three women have accused Conyers of inappropriate behavior.
Reporters have also inquired about Congress’ Office of Compliance paying out more than $17 million to settle 264 complaints over the past 20 years. Taxpayer dollars went towards settling sexual harassment and other workplace issues.