Beacon Hill: where the coffee is strong and so are the Women
Politicians are human. Occasional bad behavior should come as no surprise. What matters is what is done about it. And recently sworn-in Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) and Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham) are already sponsoring legislation to address it.
The problem is sexual misconduct. The most recent instance is the allegation that Rep. McMurtry grabbed the backside of an incoming state representative during an orientation cocktail party. The evidence, including an eyewitness, and two women the victim spoke to, is compelling.
The Globe spoke to three legislators, two of whom said the alleged victim told them that McMurtry grabbed her. A third said she witnessed it directly. The Globe generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault and misconduct, and the legislator McMurtry allegedly grabbed declined to comment through an attorney.
In response to the alleged events, Sabadosa and Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham) have sponsored a bill in their respective chambers creating ,“a commission on workplace harassment and sexual assault to investigate and report on complaints of sexual misconduct and intersectional, identity-based discrimination.”
Misconduct, sexual or otherwise, will always be with us. Individuals will always break norms and laws. However, we do have control over how we respond. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that House Speaker Robert DeLeo quite understands the how to respond:
“First of all, the House has a really comprehensive set of rules to handle, to deal with situations such as this. I can tell you from my perspective as speaker, I kept to those rules and acted accordingly,” said DeLeo, who has said he immediately referred several secondhand reports of “inappropriate conduct” from the orientation to House counsel.
Following the rules is all well and good when the rules are good enough. Sabadosa and Raucsch’s bill calls the status quo, which has yet to be enacted, into question.
The emerging McMurtry Scandal will play out. But the real story is that a younger, newer generation has joined the legislature, a generation that doesn’t tolerate sexual misconduct, a generation tired of the political status quo. It’s a generation with more women in power and more men who aren’t afraid of that fact. They are serious, intelligent, experienced, and professional. They are learning the ropes quickly and not afraid to offend the house speaker as they do their jobs.