A California congresswoman said she is sharing her personal experience with sexual harassment in the hopes of inspiring current and former congressional staffers to do the same.
In a video posted online Friday morning, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said that a chief of staff forcibly “kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth” when she was working as a congressional staffer. She did not name the person behind the alleged abuse.
Speier continued, “Many of us in Congress know what it’s like because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”
“I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside,” Speier said, adding, “I know what it’s like to remember that rush of humiliation and anger.”
Speier is pushing a new movement — “#MeTooCongress” — by encouraging Capitol Hill staffers to share their stories, if they feel comfortable, in order to “throw back the curtain on the repulsive behavior that until now has thrived in the dark without consequences.”
Thousands of people have shared their stories of alleged sexual misconduct using the hashtag #MeToo on social media in the wake of allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. More than 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the movie mogul. Weinstein has denied all allegations.
Several female senators shared their stories of the sexual harassment they say they have experienced on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” as well, though none of the incidents occurred on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recalled that when she was a young state legislator in her twenties, she asked the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives for advice on getting her first bill out of committee.
“He looked at me and he paused and he said, ‘Well, did you bring your knee pads?'” McCaskill said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.