A California congresswoman said she is sharing her personal experience with sexual harassment in the hopes of inspiring current and former congressional staffers to do the same.
In a video posted online Friday morning, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said that a chief of staff forcibly “kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth” when she was working as a congressional staffer. In the video, she did not name the person behind the alleged abuse.
Speier confirmed to ABC News that the man the allegation was directed at was Joe Holsinger, the chief of staff for former Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif. Holsinger was around 50 at the time of the incident, Speier said, and she was in her mid-20s. Holsinger died in 2004.
Speier continued in the video, “Many of us in Congress know what it’s like because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”
“I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside,” Speier said in the video, adding, “I know what it’s like to remember that rush of humiliation and anger.”
Speier is pushing a new movement — “#MeTooCongress” — by encouraging Capitol Hill staffers to share their stories, if they feel comfortable, in order to “throw back the curtain on the repulsive behavior that until now has thrived in the dark without consequences.”
Thousands of people have shared their stories of alleged sexual misconduct using the hashtag #MeToo on social media in the wake of allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. More than 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the movie mogul. Weinstein has denied all allegations.
Speier tried to make sexual harassment training a requirement for House members, staffers and officers by introducing a resolution in 2014. She also pushed an amendment to the House appropriations bill that same year to allot $500,000 to the Congressional Office of Compliance for sexual harassment training. That amendment, however, was taken out of the Senate’s version of the bill.
Several female senators shared their stories of the sexual harassment they say they have experienced on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” as well, although none of the incidents occurred on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recalled that when she was a young state legislator in her twenties, she asked the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives for advice on getting her first bill out of committee.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Veronica Stracqualursi, Mary Bruce and John Parkinson