Lauer gone from 'Today' but men misbehaving in Congress still get a free pass

Another one bites the dust – this time, “Today Show” host Matt Lauer, whose firing for “inappropriate sexual behavior” in the workplace was announced Wednesday morning. This comes only a week after rival morning show host Charlie Rose of CBS was fired for the same thing.

News reports indicate this is merely the beginning for women who have bided their time, suffered in silence and dealt with sexual harassment or worse in the workplace for decades. Now they are coming forward to finally obtain justice

Matt Lauer is only the latest to be fired from his high-profile job in recent weeks in Hollywood, the news media and elsewhere.

These men were in powerful positions, as were most of the men who have been outed for their gross mistreatment of women.  Predators prey on the weak, not the strong. The cockroaches scatter when the cleansing light illuminates darkness.

NBC, CBS, PBS, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Amazon Studios, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, Fox News and Vox Media are just some of the companies that have moved swiftly to terminate relationships or positions where powerful men were accused of behaving badly towards women (or men, in the case of Netflix and Kevin Spacey).

But what about the U.S. Congress?

The Associated Press reports that “Congress has paid out more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to resolve claims of sexual harassment, overtime pay disputes and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.” There were 264 settlements and awards, but the Office of Compliance in Congress did not release a breakdown showing how many involved alleged sexual misconduct, the AP reported.

According to the law that created the slush fund, accusers must go through 90 days of dispute resolution, including counseling.

This is an atrocity and the names of members of Congress reaching settlements need to be released immediately. Congressional leaders can put their members through sexual harassment training all they want, but taxpayers deserve to know who exactly they have been covering for all these years and, further, we deserve restitution.

Who have the American taxpayers been protecting all these years?

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.,  has been credibly accused of sexual harassment, yet he is still in power. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was pictured with his hands over the breasts of a sleeping woman. He gave a half-baked apology this week, and he has no intention of giving up his seat.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,  called Rep. Conyers an “icon” this past Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC and had to quickly backtrack her remarks after realizing they were terrible.

But Pelosi is used to defending men who are Democrats and were caught in compromising positions: These are former Reps. David Wu of Oregon, Eric Massa of New York and Anthony Weiner  of New York, plus former San Diego mayor Bob Filner, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was in a consensual relationship but deserves a mention for the stupidity for appearing in nude photos.

Even when an ultra-feminist is in charge of her party in Congress, victims didn’t get a fair shake.  Professor Jonathan Turley calls this “transactional ethics,” meaning each party protecting their own. That’s just depressing.

We are still waiting.

Congress should follow the lead of the private sector. Transparency is necessary. The American people can mete out justice at the voting booth if we are told the truth.

How many more women need to come forward to tell their stories before Congress will act?