Republicans have offered a preview of what we can expect from the House Oversight and Reform Committee once they’re in charge, and attorneys for women affected by that preview are objecting strongly to the “objectification and sexual exploitation” involved.
House Oversight Republicans, led by current ranking member and soon-to-be chair James Comer, issued a memo responding to the committee’s report on the handling of worksite misconduct at the Washington Commanders of the NFL. In that memo, Republicans included pictures apparently leaked by team owner Dan Snyder to shift blame for rampant sexual harassment in the organization from himself to Bruce Allen, the former team president. Republicans backed Snyder in the blame-shifting effort, and in their memo, they included pictures that Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys for more than 40 former Commanders employees, describe as “sexualized and salacious photographs of former cheerleaders.”
”Our clients are both humiliated and incensed by the GOP’s reckless dissemination of these photographs in an official Congressional document,” Banks and Katz wrote in a letter to Comer. “They also feel retaliated against by Republican Committee members who have apparently chosen to embarrass them publicly for coming forward. There was simply no legitimate reason for GOP members to have done this, and it has caused our clients additional and unnecessary pain.”
The lawyers are demanding that the photographs “be removed at once from Congressional websites, servers, and if applicable, the Congressional record. Our clients also want assurances these photographs will never be used in such a manner again.”
This is what we’re going to see from the majority party in the House starting in January. In an effort to defend a powerful man, they caused further pain to the victims of the abusive workplace he presided over. To implicate a slightly less powerful man than the one they were defending, they treated women’s bodies as fair game for continuing objectification.
This is the level of taste and respect and discretion House Republicans have to offer.
An unnamed Republican aide responded to a request for comment from The Hill by attacking the committee report from Democrats, saying, “From the start, Democrats cherry-picked facts to support their fabricated narrative rather than conduct a fulsome investigation. Republicans issued an internal memo that included information showing that there is more evidence to be considered.”
Dan Snyder owned the football team. There’s a lot of evidence that he personally participated in the abuses, but even if he didn’t, the buck stops with him. And even if there is “more evidence to be considered,” it doesn’t need to include exploitative images of the victims.
Oh, but the Republican aide said there was no problem there, because “Prior to circulating the internal memo, Committee staff took steps to ensure all sensitive images involving cheerleaders were redacted and their identities kept confidential.” Except for the small problem that the women involved are saying loud and clear they do not feel that the sensitive images were adequately redacted.
Like, “Hey, Republicans, the people you just used partial nudes of feel that was abusive.”
”It wasn’t abusive. End of story.”
No, guys, you don’t get to decide that.
As the lawyers for the former Commanders employees wrote, “Rather than show consideration to the many women who came forward to the Committee to share their experiences of objectification and sexual exploitation while employed by the team, Republican members of the Committee chose to subject them to more of the same.” Yes, exactly. That is what they did, and what they are continuing to say was appropriate.
And while the upcoming Republican investigations of the Biden administration probably won’t involve as many images sexually objectifying women, this is the baseline level of abuse we can expect to see from them.