Politics

McCollum Says She Fought off Colleague’s Advances

Minnesota congresswoman said she used a rolled-up newspaper to reject unidentified congressman’s advances

 Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said she rejected a fellow member's advances with a rolled-up newspaper. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum said she used a rolled-up newspaper to  reject a fellow member of Congress’ advances in the House cloakroom.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmaker said other colleagues were watching as she batted the unidentified member of Congress away and snickered.

“I sort of handled it with humor, but it was very clear,” she told the Star-Tribune. “He never bothered me again.”

McCollum said she fended off advances from at least two colleagues over the years.

“There were two members who, I thought, were very inappropriate in the way they were addressing me, [or] thinking that I wanted a hug,” she said. Neither is still serving in Congress, she said.

McCollum told the story in the wake of other members testifying on sexual harassment in Congress, and the House of Representatives instituting mandatory training on sexual harassment. 

Similarly, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to simplify Congress’ protocol for handling sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

McCollum said she attended mandatory sexual harassment training when she served in the Minnesota Legislature in the 1990s.

McCollum also said there are rumors of a “creep list” of members and staffers circulating around Capitol Hill to warn female staffers, though she said she has not seen it. 

“It was always disturbing. Women would share: ‘Avoid this person,’ ‘Make sure you’re not alone with that person.’ And we would commiserate with each other,” she said. 

McCollum said she also wrote a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment in her office handbook.

“It’s one of the most heinous types of bullying,” she said. “We as a society will continue to confront this for quite a while.”

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