Is there a double-standard with sexual misconduct accountability?

Private jobs vs. publicly-elected officials
Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 29, 2017

As powerful men in media and culture are losing their jobs over sexual misconduct allegations, Members of Congress and even the President facing similar accusations remain in office. 

It's an apparent double standard that Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-California, is hoping to combat.

"We've created a system to protect the harasser and if you're protecting the harasser, then it becomes much more difficult to fire them," said Speier. "If they are sexual harassers, they should be booted out just like people are booted out in the private sector."

But unlike in the private sector, the U.S. Constitution limits how members of Congress get the ax: either lose re-election or get expelled by two-thirds of your colleagues. 

Expulsion, though, is a rare event. When the Senate Ethics Committee recommended expulsion for Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Oregon, in 1995 over sexual harassment accusations - some of which he'd described in his personal diary - Packwood instead resigned. 

Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, Congress' longest-serving member, is facing similar calls as he faces an ethics investigation after recent reports of his own alleged sexual misconduct towards staff.

"I can't sit and judge a member and call for the resignation unless there has been, you know, unless I've been party to hearing all of the evidence and hearing the defense of the evidence," Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, said regarding Conyers today.

While the House and Senate Ethics Committees are handling complaints against Conyers and Senator Al Franken, there is no such process in the White House for Trump, who has been accused by 14 women of sexual misconduct.

"This was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president and the fact that he’s sitting here in the oval office today," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday.

Trump denies all the allegations, and is reportedly now saying the Access Hollywood recording of his bragging about grabbing women by the genitals was fabricated, even though he apologized for making those comments from 2006 when they came to light last October.

But would President Trump still be in the Oval Office in the current #MeToo environment if he was running the presidency like a business CEO, as he promised on the campaign trail?

"I don't believe he would be, but then who is the board of directors in that situation? Is it the Cabinet," asked Rep. Speier, referring to the 25th Amendment's process for removing an incapacitated president. "Or is it Congress, which would be called upon to bring impeachment proceedings?"