Home>Highlight>Proposed law would require ELEC to investigate sexual misconduct allegations by campaigns, political parties

State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Proposed law would require ELEC to investigate sexual misconduct allegations by campaigns, political parties

Bill authored by Weinberg, Gopal wound mandate anti-harassment policies, confidential investigation process

By David Wildstein, January 28 2021 3:54 pm

Two key state senators today introduced legislation requiring political parties and campaigns to implement anti-harassment policies for employees, including training and a confidential complaint process.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) would require the independent New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to set up a unit that would investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in New Jersey politics.

“Political candidates, campaigns and party organizations have a vested interest in suppressing, hiding or ignoring allegations of sexual misconduct to avert political damage or preserve their personal power,” Weinberg said. “Survivors who complain publicly, or even privately, face retaliation, are not believed and risk losing their political careers.”

The proposal, which is expected to be fast-tracked through the Legislature, would allow survivors to report allegations of misconduct on a confidential basis through ELEC.

“It is important that this legislation was shaped by the recommendations of women who understand the impact of harassment, sexual misconduct and misogyny on women in politics,” Gopal stated. “It provides important new options for survivors to report misconduct, have their allegations heard and investigated, and obtain justice.”

The the bill has the support of Murphy administration official Katie Brennan, whose allegations that she was raped by a top official of the governor’s 2017 campaign brought the issue to the attention of legislators.

“We need more women in politics. We need more women running for office. But all too often, once we get there, we are met with misogyny and harassment. So we’ve asked for accountability, and with this bill we’ll start to get it,” said Brennan. “This legislation will hold our campaigns accountable, our elected officials accountable, and begin to make New Jersey politics a little more inclusive.”

The legislation was recommended by a workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny assembled by Weinberg and by a working group on Campaign Harassment Legislation brought together by Gopal.

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