Democratic congressional candidate Linda Weber is calling on Rep. Leonard Lance to make public the settlement terms of a sexual harassment lawsuit against a colleague that he approved in 2004 while serving as minority leader of the New Jersey Senate.
A former legislative aide alleged that her job on the staff of State Sen. Anthony Bucco required that she engage in a sexual relationship with him. Claiming that Bucco’s wife learned of the affair and demanded that she be fired from his staff, the aide filed a lawsuit against Bucco and the New Jersey Senate. The lawsuit was settled on the condition that the terms remain confidential.
As Minority Leader, Lance would have been part of the approval process in any harassment settlements involving the State Senate. Sources say that then Senate President at the time, Richard Codey. did consult Lance.
Lance, facing an aggressive challenge this year for his 7th district House seat, has waded into murky waters on his own. He has co-sponsored legislation that would require transparency on all sexual harassment settlements and awards. Lance’s bill also makes lawmakers personally liable.
“It is time for accountability and reform,” Lance said in a statement.
Weber said she “couldn’t agree more with these sentiments.”
“ I am calling on Rep. Leonard Lance to make the secret settlement that he was involved in public,” Weber said.
Weber pointed out that Bucco, now serving his seventh term in the Senate, was “never held accountable” and that Lance later promoted Bucco into a leadership position.
“Laws are meaningless if they are not enforced, and transparency and accountability must apply to all of our public oﬃcials, particularly those entrusted with ensuring that their fellow lawmakers are held accountable.
Lance serves on the House Ethics Committee and is heading a subcommittee investigating allegations of sexual harassment against a Republican congressman from Texas, Blake Farentold.
Weber wants Lance to demand that Farenthold reimburse the taxpayers.
“This is a serious responsibility given all that we’ve learned about the egregious behavior of too many of our elected representatives whose sexual misconduct has been aided and abetted by the use of our tax dollars,” said Weber. “In order to bring meaningful change to the culture in Washington that has enabled sexual harassment, we must ensure that those charged with investigating it are fully transparent and willing to truly hold their colleagues accountable.”