Jan 11, 2018

#MeToo is sweeping through state legislatures

The Missouri state capitol building

The Missouri state capitol building. Photo: Education Images / UIG via Getty Images

As the state legislative season begins, the #MeToo revolution is cleaning up state capitals.

Early in my career, I covered state legislatures in Richmond and Hartford. All winter, up-and-coming lawmakers are thrown together with young staff and ambitious lobbyists for weeks at time of boozy nights far from home. There's a lot of bad behavior.

In the past year, at least 14 legislators in 10 states (list) have resigned from office following accusations of sexual harassment or misconduct, AP found in a state-by-state review:

  • "At least 16 others in more than a dozen states have faced other repercussions, such as the voluntary or forced removal from legislative leadership positions."
  • AP's David Lieb writes from Jefferson City, Mo, that "a majority of state legislatures across the country are considering strengthening sexual harassment policies that have gone unheeded or unchanged for years."
  • "[A]bout a third of all legislative chambers do not require lawmakers to receive training about what constitutes sexual harassment, how to report it and what consequences it carries."

Be smart: The #MeToo revolution — including more scandals, and debate over new workplace norms — is just beginning. One front that has gotten zero attention, but will: staff behavior on Capitol Hill.

P.S. "NPR reported ... that James Rosen, a former Washington correspondent who left Fox News last month, had done so after the network began scrutinizing sexual misconduct allegations against him. And Joel Achenbach, a Washington Post reporter, received a 90-day suspension ... for unspecified misconduct involving current and former female colleagues." (N.Y. Times)

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