On July 24, 2018, Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen went to the House floor to give a brief speech about efforts to combat human sex trafficking in advance of World Day Against Trafficking.
Sex Trafficking has been issue that Erik Paulsen has spoken, written, offered legislation and claimed credit when enacted (related commentaries Jan 2014 “Will Sex-trafficking Save the GOP”, June 2018 “Erik Paulsen Turns From Human Tracking to Opiods”.)
It is the strawman argument, no one is in favor of sex trafficking, thus this is not a controversial issue … but one that he can use to promote in campaign commercials and mailings.
Frankly, it takes no guts to take a stand on sex trafficking … but sexual assaults … that’s a different subject.
The irony is that Erik Paulsen spoke one day after Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6464, the bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act to strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts to combat campus sexual violence.
This was in the backdrop of the Star-Tribune continuing to report on law enforcement’s handling of sexual assaults in Minnesota and national headlines concerning Jim Jordan (R-OH) facing questions whether he was aware that Ohio State male wrestlers were being repeatedly molested and assaulted by a team doctor.
That’s right … women are not the only people being assaulted.
Talk to the informed Members of Congress and they will tell you that six percent of men are sexually assaulted in college, and more than 70 percent of LGBT students are sexually harassed during their college years.
How informed Congressman Paulsen is anybody’s guess … ’cause his track record is rather bare.
This is not the first time that the House had a chance to consider the HALT Campus Sexual Violence … on June 4, 2015, H.R.2680 – HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act was offered. It garnered 90 sponsors … but not Erik Paulsen. The latest version is slightly watered-down version of the 2015 proposal … but even that has not gotten Erik Paulsen’s support.
Another proposal is the Campus Accountability and Safety Act [CASA] which endorses and expands upon the current regime of campus adjudication of sexual assault cases.
CASA was first introduced in 2014 (H.R.5354). It was reintroduced in the 114th Session of Congress (H.R.1310), and again in the 115th Session as H.R.1949. Despite strong criticism by a wide range of groups, the provisions of CASA have changed little over the years.
CASA has had bipartisan support … but Erik Paulsen has never sponsored any of these bills.
Sexual assaults legislation is controversial … should they be handled by colleges? by the police? by special victims units?
And if you sponsor a proposal, you could be criticized by some conservative and men’s rights groups, which say that the legislation would be biased against the largely male accused.
So what does Erik Paulsen do ?
Take the gutless route … ignore the subject and hope the Strib reporters and editorial board doesn’t ask him.
But his constituents should not accept this.
Remember that during his FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL July 2017 event when he was asked about Trump’s new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos … to which he replied “I haven’t been following Betsy DeVos.”
Which really is a good way to avoid commenting on Secretary DeVos’ new guidance her agency issued providing instruction to campuses on how to handle sexual assault complaints. DeVos’ guidance changed the standard of proof for those making accusations of sexual violence to “clear and convincing evidence” from the Obama-era “preponderance of evidence” standard. DeVos’s guidance also allowed cases to be settled in mediation sessions and dropped the time frames for completing such investigations.
So Minnesota’s Third District voters will have a choice … reward Erik Paulsen for his failure to address the problem (although other Republicans have) or give Dean Phillip’s a chance.
The Phillip’s plan
Eliminate harassment in the workplace
There is no place for harassment of any kind in the workplace. Sexual harassment, in particular, cannot be tolerated, and Dean supports efforts to educate workers and employers, hold violators accountable, and ensure safe and respectful workplaces for all people.