Weinberg Forming Committee to Address ‘Toxic Climate for Women in NJ Politics’

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) today announced she is forming an ad hoc committee to seek immediate solutions to the toxic climate of misogyny, harassment and sexual assault that continues to pervade New Jersey politics.

“I was saddened and disheartened to read yesterday’s front page of the Star-Ledger which detailed interviews with 20 women who told of being groped, propositioned, harassed and even sexually assaulted while serving as  campaign staffers, political operatives, legislators and lobbyists,” said Weinberg.

“With all that we have tried to do, we clearly have made far too little progress in changing the culture of Trenton,” she said. “It was particularly heartbreaking to read how a 30-year-old woman who was raped followed the Katie Brennan hearings and concluded that she was right not to speak up because of the public price Katie paid for her courage.”

Weinberg, who co-chaired the Legislative Select Committee hearings that probed Brennan’s charge that she was raped by a campaign staffer while working on Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign, said she decided to form the bad government committee after reading yesterday’s Star-Ledger/NJ.com report entitled “#MeToo was supposed to fix things.

Weinberg said she would ask veteran lobbyist Jeannine LaRue, political operative Julie Roginsky and Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, to serve on the panel, along with Senate Majority Counsel Alison Accettola and Senate Minority Executive Director Christine Shipley.

She also said she would invite leaders of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce to participate to discuss how they can change the too-often misogynistic atmosphere at the annual League of Municipalities Convention and the Chamber’s “Walk to Washington” train trip.

“Frankly, I was disappointed by the ‘see no evil’ responses of League and Chamber leaders, who refused to take any responsibility for the transgressions that routinely happen at these events,” she said.

Weinberg said she would finalize the membership of the ad hoc committee this week.

“The goal is to recommend steps that can be taken immediately to reform the toxic culture that women face in New Jersey politics, and to empower women to speak up and speak out,” the senator said. “That starts with making it clear that no  woman — no matter her employment status — is legally barred by any past, current or future non-disclosure agreement from speaking out about harassment, assault or a toxic misogynistic culture on political campaigns or anywhere else.”

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