The recent revelation of a secret taxpayer-financed congressional fund for abuse settlements deeply disturbs me, and should disturb any taxpayers who care about government waste, transparency, and sexual harassment. Over the last 20 years, $17 million of taxpayer funds have been paid by the federal Office of Compliance to settle 268 sealed complaints of congressional staffers. This is outrageous. I call on members of Congress to end this secret slush fund. Americans have a right to know where and to whom their hard-earned tax dollars are going.

I am a business owner, a wife, a proud mother, and an active member of my community. In every part of my life I have to live by a set of rules. As does everyone in the real world, outside of Washington, D.C. We have to treat our coworkers, clients, neighbors, and employees with a degree of respect. But, the elites in Washington, D.C., do not believe that the rules apply to them.

Our tax dollars are used to cover the legal settlements of a few Washington elites. Hardworking American taxpayers were never asked if they wanted their tax dollars spent on these secret settlements. This secret fund has existed for generations and only now are the American people learning of it. This is not representative government.

One might wonder if there is a bureaucrat in D.C. who gets paid to contrive new and clever ways of wasting taxpayer dollars. If there is, he really outdid himself this time. But, this corrupt system is not the product of one lowly bureaucrat. This system is the product of professional politicians. This is “the swamp.”

This is what happens when professional politicians go to D.C. The professional politician who keeps running for office year-after-year, eventually, gets elected, and goes to the swamp. However, the professional politicians do not think D.C. is a swamp, they think it is a hot tub. And, they believe they can do whatever they want in that hot tub at taxpayer expense. I say we end this.

Keep in mind, the taxpayer financed slush fund is for members of Congress who are paid six-figure salaries, showered in gifts by lobbyists, recipients of a generous pension program, and recipients of top-notch health care (they exempted themselves from Obamacare, of course). These are the elites who inhabit “the swamp” in Washington. When a private citizen is accused of abusive behavior, he cannot fall back upon the taxpayers to pay his settlement; neither should members of congress.

The $17 million spent on these secret settlements could have been spent securing our borders, strengthening our military, and fighting the opioid epidemic. I call on Congress to end this secret slush fund.

Lena Epstein is a Republican candidate for Michigan’s 11th congressional district and co-owner of Vesco Oil Corp.

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