Sexual misconduct in politics: Lobbyist seeks reporting system

CALIFORNIA, USA – Lobbyist Samantha Corbin wants to hold those in power accountable when it comes to sexual misconduct. As a working woman in the political arena, she said she had experienced her fair share of inappropriate behavior.

She helped create WeSaidEnough in 2017 after the news about Harvey Weinstein broke.

“We started a conversation internally with a number of women who worked in California politics that this is not only unique in Hollywood,” said Corbin.

Within days, she helped write a letter signed by 150 other women who experienced sexual misconduct in the political world, published in the LA Times.

WeSaidEnough helped pass laws that would make the California Capitol more secure, but she said this was just the beginning. She has now received messages from thousands of women and men across the state with similar stories.

“Many of them even reported years after they left their jobs because they simply couldn’t stand the environment anymore,” said Corbin. “We continue to help victims and survivors as they need help navigating.”

Corbin says lawmakers created a unit for behavior in the workplace, but said the big flaw in the system is that it is administered by himself, the lawmaker.

“Those whom we want to hold accountable should probably not be directly responsible for controlling the accountability process,” she said. “And I would like people to take away from it that we really need independent supervision.”

She also wants oversight to take place on a broader level, saying that the entity does not encompass the larger political community of which it belongs.

“So as a lobbyist, I really don’t have access to the workplace behavior department, even if I’ve been harassed by a lawmaker, and certainly not if I’ve been harassed by another lobbyist,” said Corbin. “It also includes non-state agencies, constitutional offices, and local governments.”

How does she achieve her goal?

“If the legislature is unwilling to expand and do something bigger than itself, outside of itself, then a voting initiative may be needed so that voters can take these measures themselves,” said Corbin.

Voting initiatives are not easy, however. They take a lot of time, money, and signatures.

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