Pennsylvania state House Democrats paid nearly a quarter-million dollars in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint against a state lawmaker, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Inquirer reported that House Democrats paid $248,000 to secretly settle a 2015 complaint against state Rep. Thomas Caltagirone — a Democrat representing Berks County since 1977 — brought by a longtime legislative staffer. The settlement reportedly included a non-disclosure agreement.
The report added that in 2016, the year after the settlement, Caltagirone, 75, was re-elected to his 21st two-year term, running unopposed in both the primary and the general election.
The Inquirer noted that Caltagirone “faced a separate and widely publicized sexual harassment complaint in the mid-1990s.” It remains unclear if the lawmaker faced any disciplinary action following the settlement.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D) reportedly declined this week a request by the Inquirer to be interviewed about the settlement payouts, but told the paper in a written statement, “We take all complaints seriously, act on them quickly and investigate them, going to great lengths to try to ascertain the facts.”
According to a document prepared by the state’s Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management obtained by the Inquirer, House Democrats paid $600,000 since 2007 to settle four complaints against legislators. Two of those four cases involved sexual harassment claims, and two involved staffers who claimed they were improperly fired.
The document does not show payouts by House Republicans. Steve Miskin, a spokesman for the House GOP, told the Inquirer “as far as we know, we have not made any type of payout or payment” for sexual harassment cases.
The woman who received the payout — whose name was withheld by the Inquirer — declined to comment on the case to the newspaper.