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                                                 House Calendar No. 200
                                                 
                                                 
115th Congress }                                            {  Report
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                 
2d Session     }                                            {  115-1093
_______________________________________________________________________
                                     
                                                


                      IN THE MATTER OF ALLEGATIONS

                       RELATING TO REPRESENTATIVE

                             ELIZABETH ESTY

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                          COMMITTEE ON ETHICS
                          
                          
                          






    December 20, 2018.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered 
                             to be printed
                             
                             
                             
                             
                             _________ 

                U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
                   
89-006                  WASHINGTON : 2018                     




                             
                             
                          COMMITTEE ON ETHICS

SUSAN W. BROOKS, Indiana             THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
  Chairwoman                           Ranking Member
KENNY MARCHANT, Texas                YVETTE D. CLARKE, New York
LEONARD LANCE, New Jersey            JARED POLIS, Colorado
MIMI WALTERS, California             ANTHONY BROWN, Maryland
JOHN RATCLIFFE, Texas                STEVE COHEN, Tennessee

                              REPORT STAFF

              Thomas A. Rust, Chief Counsel/Staff Director
             Brittney Pescatore, Director of Investigations
               Megan H. Savage, Counsel to the Chairwoman
            Daniel J. Taylor, Counsel to the Ranking Member

                      Katherine L. Dacey, Counsel
                         Janet Foster, Counsel
                     Molly N. McCarty, Investigator
                   Mark Hamilton, Investigative Clerk
                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                          House of Representatives,
                                       Committee on Ethics,
                                 Washington, DC, December 20, 2018.
Hon. Karen L. Haas,
Clerk, House of Representatives,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Ms. Haas: Pursuant to clauses 3(a)(2) and 3(b) of Rule 
XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, we herewith 
transmit the attached report, ``In the Matter of Allegations 
Relating to Representative Elizabeth Esty.''
            Sincerely,
                                   Susan W. Brooks,
                                           Chairwoman.
                                   Theodore E. Deutch,
                                           Ranking Member.
                                           
                                           
                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page
  I. INTRODUCTION.....................................................1
 II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY...............................................4
III. HOUSE RULES, LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT...5
            A. Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment..........     5
            B. Payment of Compensation and Severance to House 
                Employees .......................................     6
 IV. BACKGROUND.......................................................8
            A. Policies in Representative Esty's Office 2013-2016     8
            B. Mr. Baker's Relationship With Former Staffer A in 
                2013.............................................    10
            C. Mr. Baker's Treatment of Former Staffer A in 2014.    11
            D. Mr. Baker's Treatment of Other Staff..............    12
            E. The Incident on May 5, 2016.......................    13
            F. The Investigation.................................    14
            G. Mr. Baker's Termination...........................    19
            H. Events Following Mr. Baker's Termination..........    22
  V. FINDINGS........................................................23
            A. Sexual Harassment Allegations.....................    23
                1. Representative Esty's Knowledge of Mr. Baker's 
                    Misconduct Prior to May 2016.................    24
                2. Representative Esty's Efforts to Prevent and 
                    Correct Mr. Baker's Misconduct...............    25
            B. Payment of Lump Sum Severance to Mr. Baker........    28
            C. Representative Esty's Conduct Warrants No Further 
                Action by the Committee..........................    30
 VI. CONCLUSION......................................................31
VII. STATEMENT UNDER HOUSE RULE XIII, CLAUSE 3(c)....................32
APPENDIX A: REPRESENTATIVE ESTY'S SUBMISSION TO THE COMMITTEE....    33
APPENDIX B: EXHIBITS TO THE COMMITTEE REPORT.....................    35







                                                 House Calendar No. 200
                                                 
                                                 
115th Congress   }                                          {    Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session      }                                          {  115-1093

======================================================================



 
 IN THE MATTER OF ALLEGATIONS RELATING TO REPRESENTATIVE ELIZABETH ESTY

                                _______
                                

 December 20, 2018.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______
                                

  Mrs. Brooks of Indiana, from the Committee on Ethics, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

    In accordance with House Rule XI, clauses 3(a)(2) and 3(b), 
the Committee on Ethics (``Committee'') hereby submits the 
following Report to the House of Representatives:

                            I. INTRODUCTION

    On March 29, 2018, news reports broke asserting that 
Representative Elizabeth Esty had continued to employ her 
former Chief of Staff, Tony Baker, for months after she learned 
he had threatened and abused a former staffer (``Former Staffer 
A'').\1\ The reports asserted that Mr. Baker punched, berated, 
and sexually harassed Former Staffer A while she was employed 
in Representative Esty's office in 2014, and that he left her 
threatening voicemails on the evening of May 5, 2016, just over 
a year after she had left employment with Representative Esty's 
office. According to the reports, Representative Esty learned 
of the threatening voicemails within a week of their 
occurrence, but allowed Mr. Baker to remain employed in her 
office for three months while she enlisted a former Chief of 
Staff, Mr. Baker's predecessor, to conduct an investigation. 
The reports also noted that, after receiving an assessment 
following that review detailing Mr. Baker's misconduct, 
Representative Esty terminated him, but in doing so provided 
him with a positive letter of recommendation and paid him 
severance pursuant to a confidential agreement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Dan Freedman, Esty under scrutiny over handling of alleged 
abuse, The Connecticut Post (updated Mar. 30, 2018, 1:11pm), https://
www.ctpost.com/news/article/Esty-under-scrutiny-over-handling-of-
alleged-abuse-12791993.php; Elise Viebeck, Conn. Congresswoman kept 
aide on staff for 3 months after she learned of threat allegation, The 
Washington Post (Mar. 29, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/
powerpost/conn-congresswoman-kept-aide-on-staff-3-months-after-she-
learned-of-threat-allegation/2018/03/29/5af5b11c-2311-11e8-94da-
ebf9d112159c_story.html?utm_ term=.fc8b1460247a.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In the initial news reports, Representative Esty 
acknowledged aspects of the reporting, but also indicated that 
she had sought and relied upon legal guidance from the Office 
of House Employment Counsel (``OHEC'') in handling the matter. 
On April 2, 2018, Representative Esty sent a letter to the 
Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Committee requesting the 
Committee review the circumstances surrounding her dismissal of 
Mr. Baker to determine whether there was any wrongdoing on her 
part.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\On April 11, 2018, the Office of Congressional Ethics (``OCE'') 
provided notice to the Committee that it had initiated a preliminary 
review into whether Representative Esty ``authorized compensation to a 
former employee who did not perform duties commensurate with the 
compensation the employee received.'' On May 10, 2018, OCE informed the 
Committee that it had terminated its preliminary review into 
Representative Esty. When OCE terminates a review during the 
preliminary review phase, it is not required to transmit a referral 
with a recommendation regarding the matter to the Committee. OCE Rules 
for the Conduct of Investigations Rule 7(F).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Committee conducted a thorough review of Representative 
Esty's handling of Mr. Baker's conduct to determine whether she 
violated any House rule or other applicable standard of 
conduct. The Committee specifically considered whether 
Representative Esty: (1) failed to take appropriate steps to 
prevent and correct Mr. Baker's misconduct; or (2) improperly 
paid Mr. Baker a lump sum severance payment upon his 
termination.
    The Committee found that Representative Esty did not know 
about any inappropriate conduct by Mr. Baker until May 2016, 
when she learned about threats he made to Former Staffer A 
following a social event the week prior. Soon thereafter, 
Representative Esty arranged for her former Chief of Staff 
(``Former Chief''\3\) and her campaign committee Treasurer 
(``Campaign Treasurer'') to conduct an investigation into Mr. 
Baker's behavior and general office management practices. The 
investigation took over two months to conduct, and 
Representative Esty never made clear the purpose of the 
investigation to her congressional staff. While the 
investigation was ongoing, Mr. Baker retained his title, full 
salary, and supervisory responsibilities, including over staff 
members who were interviewed as part of the investigation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\All references to ``Former Chief'' in this report are to 
Representative Esty's Chief of Staff from January 3, 2013, to January 
2, 2014.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Once the investigation was completed and she was presented 
with the results, Representative Esty barred Mr. Baker from her 
office and worked extensively with OHEC to terminate Mr. Baker. 
As discussed further in this report, OHEC identified three 
options for Representative Esty to terminate Mr. Baker; 
Representative Esty chose the least generous option. Mr. Baker 
was terminated a few weeks later pursuant to a confidential 
severance and release agreement (the ``Agreement'') recommended 
to Representative Esty by OHEC.
    Members have a duty to take steps to ensure a safe and 
nondiscriminatory workplace. The Committee found that 
Representative Esty recognized that she had such a duty, and 
took certain steps towards meeting that duty, including 
initiating an investigation and, ultimately, removing Mr. Baker 
from the office. Nonetheless, Representative Esty's 
investigation took longer than necessary, and her selection of 
her close allies, who had significant pre-existing 
relationships with both Mr. Baker and Former Staffer A, to 
conduct the investigation was a poor choice. In her interview 
with the Committee, Representative Esty acknowledged that there 
were several ways in which she did not engage in ``best 
practices,'' which she now, with the benefit of hindsight and a 
greater understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace, 
wishes she had handled differently.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty (noting that, ``post 
#MeToo, we're in a very different place'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    When faced with allegations of workplace misconduct, the 
Committee believes Member offices are best served by: (1) 
immediately limiting or otherwise restricting the individual's 
interactions with potential victims; and (2) if an 
investigation is required, employing an impartial third party 
trained to conduct such an investigation. The Committee 
recognizes, however, that Members have broad discretion to make 
personnel decisions with respect to their employees. The 
Committee further acknowledges that Representative Esty sought 
and relied on legal guidance from OHEC, both in how the 
investigation was conducted and in how Mr. Baker's termination 
was effectuated. As such, while Representative Esty could have 
better handled the investigation of Mr. Baker's behavior, the 
Committee found that Representative Esty's response to 
allegations of Mr. Baker's misconduct warrants no further 
action.
    With respect to the payment of severance, the Committee 
acknowledges that there was little and inconsistent guidance on 
severance payments available to the House community at the time 
Representative Esty paid severance to Mr. Baker. The Committee 
has long recognized that Members may make lump sum payments to 
their employees. While leaving an employee on House payroll for 
a period of time when they are not performing official work, as 
``severance,'' violates House rules, providing severance 
through a single lump sum payment is not categorically 
prohibited.
    As a result of this analysis, the Committee found that 
Representative Esty was not in violation of any House Rules 
when she approved a lump sum payment of $5,041.67 to Mr. Baker 
as part of the Agreement negotiated by OHEC.\5\ Representative 
Esty expressed regret for entering into the Agreement, which 
included non-disparagement and non-disclosure provisions, and 
an agreement to provide a limited reference and letter of 
recommendation for Mr. Baker for jobs outside of Washington, 
D.C. The Committee agrees that entering into the Agreement was 
ill-advised, but found that it was not a violation of any House 
rule or other standard of conduct.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Although the severance payment was permissible, Representative 
Esty repaid the U.S. Treasury for the $5,041.67 in severance on March 
28, 2018, shortly before the news stories broke concerning Mr. Baker's 
departure from her office. Exhibit 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Accordingly, the Committee unanimously voted to issue this 
Report and take no further action in this matter.
    As discussed further in this Report, the Committee takes 
this opportunity to reiterate what it has said previously: the 
Committee views allegations of sexual harassment and 
discrimination and other violations of workplace rights with 
the utmost seriousness. The Committee's mandate to enforce the 
Code of Official Conduct and other violations of House Rules, 
laws, and standards of conduct extends to allegations of 
workplace misconduct, including allegations related to sexual 
harassment and other forms of discrimination. No employee in 
any workplace should be subjected to such mistreatment because 
of the profound impact upon them as a person. When 
congressional employees are subjected to work environments that 
are unfair and unprofessional, such workplace misconduct also 
impedes the work of the House. The Committee has investigated 
and will continue to investigate allegations of sexual 
harassment and other workplace misconduct, and, where such 
allegations are substantiated, to sanction Members or staffers 
for such conduct.
    In addition, the Committee reminds the House community of a 
range of resources that are available to Members, officers, and 
employees and can help those whose workplace rights may have 
been violated or who may be struggling with personal issues. 
First, Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act 
(``CAA'') to ensure that certain workplace rights protected by 
federal law extended to legislative branch employees and 
created the Office of Compliance (``OOC'') to serve as an 
independent and nonpartisan resource to help protect employees' 
rights. During the 115th Congress, the Committee worked on a 
bipartisan basis with the Committee on House Administration 
(``CHA'') and other Members of the House on legislation to 
strengthen and improve these protections, including by 
reforming the process for an employee to bring a claim before 
OOC (which will be renamed the Office of Workplace Rights) and 
to provide for automatic referrals of certain matters before 
OOC to the congressional ethics committees, among other 
reforms. A compromise version of this legislation was recently 
passed by both the House and Senate.
    Second, as part of this effort, in February 2018 the House 
also created an Office of Employee Advocacy specifically to 
provide legal counsel to House employees who need advice or 
legal representation about their rights under the CAA. This 
office can provide free legal representation to employees in 
matters before OOC or the Committee.
    Finally, the House created the Office of Employee 
Assistance to provide confidential assistance to Members, 
employees, and their families with a range of problems that can 
affect anyone's well-being or work performance and 
productivity, including alcoholism or substance abuse, 
emotional difficulties, personal or job related stress, and 
others. The office is staffed by professional employee 
assistance counselors who can provide individual counseling or 
assistance, management coaching to supervisors, and referrals 
to outside resources when appropriate, among other services.
    Together, these resources are intended to ensure that all 
Members, officers, and employees can work and thrive in a safe, 
healthy, and respectful workplace.

                         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

    The Committee received Representative Esty's letter 
requesting an investigation on April 2, 2018. The Committee 
issued voluntary requests for information to Representative 
Esty and four other individuals, including current and former 
members of Representative Esty's official and campaign staff. 
In total, the Committee reviewed over 4,400 pages of materials. 
The Committee also interviewed nine witnesses, including 
current and former members of Representative Esty's official 
and campaign staff and Representative Esty. Representative Esty 
fully cooperated with the Committee's investigation and waived 
attorney-client privilege to share information about the 
guidance and recommendations provided to her by OHEC.
    The Committee carefully considered all of Representative 
Esty's written submissions and oral remarks in resolving the 
matter. On December 20, 2018, the Committee unanimously voted 
to release this Report and take no further action with respect 
to Representative Esty.

  III. HOUSE RULES, LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT


              A. SEX DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT

    Sexual harassment and other forms of employment 
discrimination are prohibited in the House by both federal 
statute and House Rule. Since 1995, the CAA\6\ has prohibited 
discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, in 
legislative branch offices and also prohibited intimidation, 
reprisal, or other discrimination against a person for opposing 
sex discrimination. During the period under review, House Rule 
XXIII, clause 9, stated that ``[a] Member . . . may not 
discharge and may not refuse to hire an individual, or 
otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to 
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, 
because of the race, color, religion, sex (including marital or 
parental status), disability, age, or national origin of such 
individual.'' The Committee has long held that a Member who 
violates applicable sex discrimination and sexual harassment 
laws also violates House Rule XXIII, clause 9.\7\ On February 
6, 2018, the House formally amended clause 9 to confirm that 
the prohibition includes ``committing an act of sexual 
harassment against such an individual.''\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\2 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 1301 et seq., as amended.
    \7\House Ethics Manual (2008) at 268-69 (hereinafter Ethics Manual) 
(citing House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of 
Representative Jim Bates, H. Rept. 101-293 101st Cong., 1st Sess. 8-10 
(1989).
    \8\H. Res. 724, 115th Cong. (2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The CAA created the OOC as a forum to administer disputes 
that arise under the CAA, including claims of gender 
discrimination and sexual harassment. The OOC's guidance 
defines sexual harassment as ``[u]nwelcome sexual advances, 
requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct 
of a sexual nature if the implication is that submission to 
such conduct is expected as part of the job.''\9\ Consistent 
with judicial interpretations of Title VII of the Civil Rights 
Act of 1964,\10\ the OOC recognizes that harassment, including 
sexual harassment, can occur ``when there is unwelcome conduct, 
such as insults, slurs, or other verbal or physical conduct or 
activity regarding a protected trait,'' which ``creates an 
intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, that 
unreasonably interferes with an individual's work 
performance.''\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\Office of Compliance, CAA Handbook (2010) at 44, available at 
https://compliance.gov/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/
eHandbook.pdf.
    \10\42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 2000e et seq.
    \11\Office of Compliance, [email protected] (2012) at 2, available at 
https://www.compliance. gov/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/
2012/09/Newsletter-for-Staff.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In this Congress, the Committee has worked closely with its 
colleagues on CHA and other Members on a bipartisan basis to 
reform the CAA and strengthen workplace rights and protections 
for employees in the legislative branch. On February 6, 2018, 
the House passed H.R. 4924, the Congressional Accountability 
Act of 1995 Reform Act with overwhelming bipartisan 
support.\12\ On May 24, 2018, the Senate passed S. 2952, its 
version of the legislation to reform the CAA. The Senate's 
version was transmitted to the House on May 29, 2018. On 
November 19, 2018, the Committee sent a letter to House and 
Senate leadership, signed by all ten Members of the Committee, 
urging Congress to quickly pass the much-needed reforms 
contained in the House bill.\13\ On December 13, 2018, Congress 
passed a compromise bill, S. 3749, also titled the 
Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, which 
includes important reforms to protect congressional employees 
from abuse and harassment, and ensure the Committee has the 
tools and information it needs to investigate alleged 
violations of workplace rights and other misconduct.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\See, e.g., House Comm. on Ethics, Statement of the Chairwoman 
and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics, Feb. 6, 2018, available 
at https://ethics.house.gov/press-release/ statement-chairwoman-and-
ranking-member-committee-ethics-0 (discussing the House bill and the 
Committee's view of the importance of ethics provisions).
    \13\Letter from Comm. on Ethics to Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Minority 
Leader Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell & Minority Leader 
Charles E. Schumer, Nov. 19, 2018, available at https://
ethics.house.gov/sites/ethics.house.gov/files/
Letter%20to%20Leadership.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination 
also implicate House Rule XXIII, clauses 1 and 2, which state 
that ``[a] Member . . . or employee of the House shall behave 
at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the 
House,'' and ``shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the 
Rules of the House.''

      B. PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION AND SEVERANCE TO HOUSE EMPLOYEES

    There is no law, rule, or regulation that specifically 
addresses whether House offices may pay severance to departing 
employees. Whereas the executive branch is subject to a 
complicated regulatory framework governing when and how 
severance can be paid,\14\ no comparable framework exists for 
the legislative branch. However, the payment of severance may 
implicate several laws, rules, and regulations of the House, 
depending on the circumstances under which such severance is 
paid.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\5 C.F.R. Sec. Sec. 550.701 et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    House Rule XXIII, clause 8, states that ``[a] Member . . . 
of the House may not retain an employee who does not perform 
duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate 
with the compensation such employee receives.'' Thus, a Member 
is responsible for ensuring that each employee the Member 
retains performs official work commensurate with that 
employee's pay. As the Ethics Manual states:

          The underlying standard for the receipt of 
        compensation by an employee of the House is that the 
        employee has regularly performed official duties 
        commensurate with the compensation received. The Code 
        of Ethics for Government Service instructs every 
        employee to `[g]ive a full day's labor for a full day's 
        pay; giving to the performance of his duties his best 
        effort and best thought.' Employees are paid United 
        States Treasury funds to perform public duties. 
        Appropriated funds are to be used solely for purposes 
        for which appropriated. Funds appropriated for 
        congressional staff to perform official duties should 
        be used only for assisting a Member in his or her 
        legislative and representational duties, working on 
        committee business, or performing other congressional 
        functions.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\Ethics Manual at 279.

    Notwithstanding these restrictions, the ``general terms, 
conditions, and specific duties of House employees 
traditionally have been within the discretion of the employing 
Member.''\16\ Members also have ``broad authority to make lump 
sum payments'' to employees.\17\ The Committee on House 
Administration (``CHA'') has, under authority granted by 
federal law,\18\ issued regulations governing such payments. 
Those regulations, which are published in the Members' 
Handbook, permit Members to issue lump sum payments to 
employees ``for any purpose,'' subject to certain requirements. 
For example:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\Id. at 267; see also Comm. on House Admin., U.S. House of 
Representatives, Members' Congressional Handbook, July 25, 2018, at 4 
(hereinafter Members' Handbook) (``the Member determines the terms and 
conditions of employment and service for their staff'') (available at 
https://cha.house.gov/handbooks/members-congressional-handbook); 
Exhibit 2 (Members' Handbook (2015) at 3 (the Members' Handbook in 
effect at the time Mr. Baker was terminated from Representative Esty's 
office)).
    \17\Ethics Manual at 283.
    \18\2 U.S.C. Sec. 4537 (formerly 2 U.S.C. Sec. 60).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Payments must be consistent with House Rule 
        XXIII, clause 8(a).\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\Members' Handbook at 11; Exhibit 2 at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
           A lump sum payment may not be more than the 
        monthly pay of the employee receiving the lump sum 
        payment.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \20\Members' Handbook at 11; Exhibit 2 at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Lump sum payments may be for services 
        performed during more than one month.\21\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\Members' Handbook at 11; Exhibit 2 at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Members may provide lump sum payments for 
        accrued annual leave only if such leave was accrued in 
        accordance with written personnel policies established 
        prior to the accrual of such leave.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \22\Members' Handbook at 11; Exhibit 2 at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Total compensation in any month including 
        any lump sum payment, student loan payments, and 
        regular pay (including cash reimbursement for accrued 
        annual leave) may not exceed 1/12th of the maximum rate 
        of pay specified in the Speaker's Pay Order.\23\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \23\Members' Handbook at 11; Exhibit 2 at 9. The Speaker's Pay 
Order sets the pay for all positions in the House. Section 4 of the Pay 
Order states, ``Each Member of the House may establish the pay for 
employees in the office of the Member at a maximum annual rate of 
$168,411.'' Order of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, 
pursuant to 2 U.S.C. Sec. 4532 (formerly 2 U.S.C. Sec. 60a-2a), as 
amended on September 28, 2017.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    While the relevant CHA regulations provide basic guidelines 
on the making of lump sum payments, ``it is the responsibility 
of the [Ethics Committee] to determine the manner in which 
those payments are to be treated for purposes of the Code of 
Official Conduct and other laws, rules, and standards.''\24\ 
The Committee has cautioned that Members should not use lump 
sum payments to enable employees to evade the financial 
disclosure requirements, the outside earned income limitation 
and restrictions, or the post-employment restrictions.\25\ 
However, lump sum end-of-the year bonuses or other one-time 
payments recognizing a particular accomplishment are generally 
permissible.\26\ House offices use the Lump Sum Payroll 
Authorization Form issued by the Chief Administrative Officer 
of the House (CAO). That form lists ``severance pay'' as a 
permissible category of lump sum payment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \24\Ethics Manual at 283.
    \25\Id. at 284.
    \26\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                             IV. BACKGROUND

    Representative Elizabeth Esty has been a Member of the 
House of Representatives, representing the Fifth District of 
Connecticut, since 2013. After her first election to Congress, 
Representative Esty hired, among others, Former Chief, who had 
served as her 2012 campaign manager, to be her Chief of Staff, 
and Former Staffer A, who had served as her 2012 campaign 
finance director, to be her Scheduler. At that time, 
Representative Esty also hired Mr. Baker, with whom she was not 
previously acquainted, to be her Legislative Director.
    While both were employed by Representative Esty, Former 
Staffer A and Mr. Baker were involved in a romantic 
relationship in 2013, when neither one had supervisory 
authority over the other. In January 2014, after they ended 
their romantic relationship, both were promoted: Former Staffer 
A to Senior Advisor and Mr. Baker to Chief of Staff. While in 
that new supervisory role, Mr. Baker subjected Former Staffer A 
to a sustained pattern of mistreatment, which culminated in her 
departure from Representative Esty's office in March 2015. The 
two were able to become friendly again, until, on May 5, 2016, 
Mr. Baker got drunk to the point of blacking out and repeatedly 
left text messages and voice messages for Former Staffer A in 
which he threatened to ``find'' and ``[f***]ing kill'' her.
    Representative Esty learned about the incident the 
following week, and decided to conduct an investigation into 
Mr. Baker's behavior to determine whether this was an isolated 
incident or a pattern of behavior. Representative Esty enlisted 
Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer to conduct interviews with 
staff in her Washington D.C., and district offices, 
respectively. Those interviews were conducted in July 2016. 
Campaign Treasurer reported no issues arising from her district 
office interviews. Former Chief, however, presented a written 
office assessment to Representative Esty on July 20, 2016, that 
detailed a pattern of Mr. Baker engaging in emotionally abusive 
behavior towards female staff members. After working with OHEC 
to determine how to terminate Mr. Baker expeditiously while 
causing the least additional trauma to her office, 
Representative Esty entered into the Agreement with Mr. Baker 
which separated him from her office on August 12, 2016.

         A. POLICIES IN REPRESENTATIVE ESTY'S OFFICE 2013-2016

    After Representative Esty was elected to Congress, Former 
Chief created an Employee Handbook to govern the office, which 
was based on templates made available to chiefs of staff to new 
Members.\27\ The handbook included an ``Open Door Policy,'' 
which provided that employees ``are encouraged to discuss job-
related concerns or questions with their immediate 
supervisor,'' or ``a higher-level supervisor, including the 
Chief of Staff.''\28\ While Former Chief did not recall why 
Representative Esty was not listed as a person to go to under 
the open-door policy, she felt ``confident . . . that it was 
not intended to be exhaustive or exclusionary of 
[Representative Esty].''\29\ The handbook also included an 
``Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy,'' which 
stated that staff members should report potentially violative 
actions ``to the Chief of Staff (Washington, D.C.), District 
Director (Connecticut), his/her direct supervisor, the next 
level supervisor, or any other management official with whom 
the employee feels comfortable discussing such issues.''\30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\Exhibit 3; 18(a) Interview of Former Chief. Former Chief did 
not recall from where she obtained the template. Id.
    \28\Exhibit 3.
    \29\18(a) Day 2 Interview of Former Chief.
    \30\Exhibit 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Notwithstanding these provisions, some of Representative 
Esty's staff did not feel that they could approach 
Representative Esty directly with their concerns after Mr. 
Baker became Chief of Staff. That discomfort was due in part to 
Representative Esty's hands-off management style. As one staff 
member explained: ``it was very clear in the way that 
[Representative Esty] operated the office that everything came 
through the district director or the chief of staff'' such that 
Representative Esty ``was never involved in any sort of like 
staff-related issues.''\31\ Particularly in her Washington, 
D.C., office, Representative Esty delegated much of the day-to-
day management to Mr. Baker, giving him a prominent presence in 
the office.\32\ The practical effect of this combination meant 
that Representative Esty's Washington, D.C., staff felt that 
there was no feedback mechanism, even under the Open Door 
Policy, by which they could tell Representative Esty about Mr. 
Baker's behavior.\33\ Representative Esty told the Committee 
that Mr. Baker ``managed up'' and she was ``unaware of how much 
[Mr. Baker] was cutting off access'' to her.\34\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \31\18(a) Interview of Staffer B.
    \32\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
B; 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \33\18(a) Interview of Staffer B; Exhibit 4. A staffer also noted 
that the handbook ``was not referenced near often enough for any of 
[the staff] to take it seriously.'' 18(a) Interview of Staffer B. 
Additionally, while Representative Esty had annual retreats which 
included reviews and reminders of policies, staffers did not recall 
learning about the OOC or receiving sexual harassment training in 
Representative Esty's office prior to 2016. 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty; 18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) 
Interview of Staffer C.
    \34\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
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    While in Representative Esty's office, Former Chief 
instituted a practice of conducting formal performance reviews 
of the staff and reported up to Representative Esty.\35\ While 
the Committee received varying evidence about whether and how 
Mr. Baker conducted performance reviews, it appears that they 
were not as formal as Former Chief's.\36\ Neither Former Chief 
nor Mr. Baker, while in the role of Chief of Staff, ever 
received a formal performance review from Representative 
Esty.\37\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \35\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \36\Representative Esty did not recall any differences in the 
process for performance reviews under Former Chief and Mr. Baker. 18(a) 
Interview of Representative Esty. Former Staffer A, however, said that 
she only received one informal review at her request and it was 
delivered in a bar. 18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A. See also 18(a) 
Interview of Staffer B (noting the performance review policy was ``less 
comprehensive'' under Mr. Baker but not substantially so); 18(a) 
Interview of Staffer C (recalling the reviews were meant to occur 
semiannually, but only receiving one review).
    \37\18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker; 
18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

       B. MR. BAKER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH FORMER STAFFER A IN 2013

    Mr. Baker and Former Staffer A were involved in a romantic 
relationship in 2013, when they had no supervisory 
responsibilities over one another. Although Representative 
Esty's office had no prohibition on staff relationships at this 
time, the Committee received some testimony that Mr. Baker and 
Former Staffer A purposefully kept their relationship a secret 
from Representative Esty.\38\ Former Chief learned about the 
relationship between Mr. Baker and Former Staffer A while it 
was ongoing, but she did not inform Representative Esty.\39\ 
There is no evidence that Mr. Baker mistreated Former Staffer A 
during their relationship.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \38\18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker; 
18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \39\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In the fall of 2013, Former Chief announced that she was 
leaving her position at the end of the year. Mr. Baker decided 
to apply for the position. Former Staffer A said that she told 
Representative Esty that she thought he would make a good Chief 
of Staff.\40\ Former Chief said that she also recommended Mr. 
Baker for the position to Representative Esty based on a number 
of factors, including the legislative successes the office had 
under his management as Legislative Director.\41\ 
Representative Esty ultimately selected Mr. Baker for the 
position.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \40\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \41\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Staffer A told the Committee that she considered 
leaving Representative Esty's office after learning that Former 
Chief was leaving. She explained this was in part due to an 
incident that occurred between Mr. Baker and herself after he 
was named Chief of Staff, but before he formally assumed the 
role.\42\ According to Former Staffer A, she presented him with 
a written proposal for more responsibilities. Due to their 
previous relationship, Former Staffer A wanted to make an 
``overly formal'' presentation to Mr. Baker.\43\ According to 
Former Staffer A, after finishing her presentation, Mr. Baker 
said ``Great, thanks, I'll think about it'' and then asked her 
to have sex with him on Former Chief's desk.\44\ Former Staffer 
A said she declined Mr. Baker's request and asked if the 
request was related to her request for more responsibilities. 
Mr. Baker replied that it was not related to her request but 
``obviously it would help.''\45\ Mr. Baker declined to discuss 
this incident with Committee Staff but disputed that he had 
ever conditioned any employment action with respect to Former 
Staffer A on her engaging in sexual activities with him.\46\ 
There is no evidence that Mr. Baker and Former Staffer A 
engaged in sexual relations related to any employment action.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \42\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \43\Id. Former Staffer A and Mr. Baker's testimony as to when their 
relationship ended differed: Former Staffer A told the Committee that 
occurred prior to October 2013, while Mr. Baker told the Committee they 
stopped dating in January 2014 when he was about to become Chief of 
Staff. Id.; 18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
    \44\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \45\Id.
    \46\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker indicated that he 
viewed this as something he and Former Staffer A had discussed while in 
a relationship. See Exhibit 5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Staffer A told Representative Esty after this 
incident that she was leaving the office because Former Chief 
had been a mentor, but did not mention Mr. Baker's sexual 
proposition.\47\ Representative Esty convinced Former Staffer A 
to stay after promoting Former Staffer A to Senior Advisor, 
giving her additional responsibilities and a raise, in exchange 
for a commitment to stay for the remainder of her first 
term.\48\ Former Staffer A said she considered telling 
Representative Esty about her relationship with Mr. Baker and 
his sexual proposition in the office ``only very fleetingly'' 
because she ``didn't want to bother her with it.''\49\ There is 
no evidence that Representative Esty was aware of Mr. Baker's 
proposition or Former Staffer A's discomfort with him prior to 
May 2016.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \47\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \48\Id.
    \49\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

          C. MR. BAKER'S TREATMENT OF FORMER STAFFER A IN 2014

    Throughout 2014, Former Staffer A was subjected to a 
pattern of mistreatment by Mr. Baker. According to Former 
Staffer A, Mr. Baker screamed at her once every other week.\50\ 
These incidents often started over something minor related to 
work, but then Mr. Baker's conduct escalated in a manner 
disproportional to the work issue.\51\ On those occasions, Mr. 
Baker asked Former Staffer A to go with him to Representative 
Esty's office, closed the door, and resumed yelling at her so 
other staffers could not hear.\52\ Former Staffer A testified 
that some of these arguments led her to have panic attacks.\53\ 
According to Former Staffer A, Mr. Baker's yelling turned 
personal at times: he told her she was not that smart, 
criticized her current relationship, and called her a 
``slut.''\54\ Former Staffer A felt ``embarrassed, demeaned, 
angry, . . . sad, [and] frustrated'' as a result of this 
behavior.\55\ Mr. Baker admitted to ``los[ing] his cool and 
yell[ing] at'' Former Staffer A, but said it happened less 
often than Former Staffer A indicated.\56\ He recalled those 
incidents ``started as an argument between us where both of us 
had our voices raised, and then [he] would continue,'' whereas 
Former Staffer A would fall quiet.\57\ Mr. Baker said the 
arguments were about scheduling details or how Former Staffer A 
acted in the office, which he took as disrespectful, personal 
affronts.\58\ Mr. Baker denied that he ever called Former 
Staffer A a ``slut.''\59\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \50\Id.
    \51\Id. Other staffers testified that they were aware of Mr. 
Baker's treatment of Former Staffer A. One staffer relayed what she 
heard contemporaneously from Former Staffer A and other staffers, which 
generally corroborated Former Staffer A's testimony regarding Mr. 
Baker. 18(a) Interview of Staffer B. Another staffer observed ``tense 
interactions'' where Mr. Baker exhibited ``anger or frustration or 
dismissiveness that didn't seem reasonable or called for at the 
moment,'' and noted that Former Staffer A sometimes responded in a 
``feisty'' way, sometimes she seemed ``okay,'' and sometimes she seemed 
``really put down and put upon.'' 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
    \52\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \53\Id.
    \54\Id.
    \55\Id.
    \56\Id.
    \57\Id.
    \58\Id.
    \59\Id.; Exhibit 5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Staffer A also described one instance of physical 
abuse by Mr. Baker. According to Former Staffer A, one time 
when Mr. Baker was yelling at her, he told her to go to 
Representative Esty's office. Former Staffer A refused, as she 
did not want to be yelled at anymore. Former Staffer A 
testified that when she did not move from her chair, Mr. Baker 
punched her in the back.\60\ She then went into Representative 
Esty's office and told Mr. Baker that could never happen again. 
Mr. Baker denied ever punching Former Staffer A.\61\ When asked 
whether he engaged in any physical contact with Former Staffer 
A in Representative Esty's office, he said that they 
occasionally ``bump[ed]'' into each other in the office.\62\ 
Staffer B testified that she was on the phone with Former 
Staffer A when Mr. Baker was trying to get Former Staffer A's 
attention; Former Staffer A then said ``ow [. . .] I have to 
call you back, Tony just hit me.''\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \60\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \61\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
    \62\Id.
    \63\18(a) Interview of Staffer B.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Notably, there is no evidence that Representative Esty was 
aware of Mr. Baker's mistreatment of Former Staffer A while she 
was still employed in Representative Esty's office. Both Former 
Staffer A and Mr. Baker told the Committee that the 
mistreatment only occurred when Representative Esty was not 
around. After these incidents, Mr. Baker apologized and said he 
would change his behavior, but warned Former Staffer A not to 
report his behavior to Representative Esty or the Committee, 
because it could cause a scandal for--and destroy the re-
election chances of--Representative Esty.\64\ Mr. Baker also 
told Former Staffer A that the Committee was not a proper 
resource for her because the Committee only investigated 
Members.\65\ He also warned her that he had ruined the careers 
of staffers in another Member's office in which he had 
previously served.\66\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \64\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Mr. 
Baker; see also 18(a) Interview of Staffer B.
    \65\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker; Exhibit 6. See also 18(a) 
Interview of Staffer B (stating that the Committee's reputation was 
that it is ``here to protect Members''). The Committee has jurisdiction 
to investigate, and does investigate, allegations involving all current 
Members, officers, and employees of the House.
    \66\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A. See also Exhibit 6.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Staffer A testified that she believed that she could 
tell Representative Esty about the mistreatment, who would ``be 
so horrified and protective and upset that she would prioritize 
it at the expense of all of her other priorities.''\67\ Because 
she ``feared for Representative Esty's career and reputation 
and [her] own,'' however, she specifically decided not to 
report Mr. Baker's mistreatment.\68\ In addition, 
Representative Esty told the Committee that Former Staffer A 
told her in May 2018 that she had intentionally not informed 
Representative Esty of Mr. Baker's conduct when it was 
occurring in 2014.\69\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \67\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \68\Id. Former Staffer A also made it very clear to other staff 
that she did not want anyone to report Mr. Baker's behavior to 
Representative Esty, the Committee, or anyone else. Id. See also 18(a) 
Interview of Staffer B (confirming that Former Staffer A did not want 
to report the mistreatment).
    \69\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                D. MR. BAKER'S TREATMENT OF OTHER STAFF

    The Committee reviewed evidence that Mr. Baker also 
mistreated other staffers during his tenure as Chief of Staff. 
Beyond his treatment of Former Staffer A, some staff believed 
Mr. Baker acted inappropriately in the office, and that he made 
insensitive comments or jokes, including about staffers' 
appearances.\70\ The Committee learned that his inappropriate 
behavior was sometimes directed towards one staffer in 
particular.\71\ One Halloween, Mr. Baker bought a ``crazy blond 
hair wig'' and dressed up as that staffer, which made the 
staffer so upset that she cried.\72\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \70\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
B.
    \71\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A (noting that Mr. Baker 
would make negative comments about another staffer's appearance in the 
office).
    \72\Id. Both the staffer and Representative Esty said they did not 
believe Representative Esty was aware of this incident at the time. 
18(a) Interview of Staffer E; 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Multiple staffers also told the Committee that Mr. Baker 
played ``favorites,'' and it was very clear based on his 
treatment of staff whether you were a ``favorite.''\73\ Some 
staffers also believed Mr. Baker treated women differently from 
men in the office, provided fewer and less meaningful 
opportunities for female staff, and could be harsher towards 
female staff.\74\ Mr. Baker denied that he treated men and 
women differently in the office, and said that he held people 
he considered friends to a higher standard, which included both 
male and female staffers.\75\ The Committee received no 
evidence that Representative Esty was aware of staffers' 
concerns about Mr. Baker's treatment of them prior to July 
2016.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \73\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
    \74\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
C; Exhibit 4.
    \75\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mr. Baker also engaged in romantic relations with two other 
individuals who worked with Representative Esty's campaign.\76\ 
The Committee also received evidence that Mr. Baker ``[drank] 
too much'' and ``tr[ied] to aggressively flirt or invade 
women's spaces,'' but not in a way that had previously raised a 
threat of violence or to the extremity of the events of May 5, 
2016.\77\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \76\Id.; Exhibit 6. Mr. Baker does not appear to have had any 
supervisory role over either of these individuals. Id.
    \77\18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                     E. THE INCIDENT ON MAY 5, 2016

    After fulfilling her promise to serve out Representative 
Esty's first term, Former Staffer A left Representative Esty's 
office in March 2015; she told the Committee her exit was in 
large part to escape Mr. Baker's mistreatment.\78\ After her 
departure from Representative Esty's office, Former Staffer A 
and Mr. Baker eventually developed a friendly relationship, and 
Former Staffer A even lived at Mr. Baker's apartment for a few 
months in between leases.\79\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \78\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A. Former Staffer A did not 
disclose Mr. Baker's mistreatment of her to Representative Esty when 
she left the office. Id.
    \79\Id.; 18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On May 5, 2016, Mr. Baker hosted a happy hour to celebrate 
his 10-year anniversary in Washington, D.C., which Former 
Staffer A attended. That evening, Mr. Baker got very drunk, 
engaged in ``really boorish behavior,'' and acted 
inappropriately towards two women at the bar.\80\ After being 
dropped off by a friend near his apartment, Mr. Baker proceeded 
to call Former Staffer A over 50 times, told her he was going 
to come ``find'' her and that he knew how to get into her 
apartment, and threatened to ``[f***]ing kill'' her.\81\ Former 
Staffer A was terrified by the events of that night and 
concerned for her own personal safety.\82\ Mr. Baker testified 
that he blacked out and does not recall what happened that 
evening, but woke the next morning with a smashed, unusable 
cell phone and ``a sense that [he] needed to apologize to 
[Former Staffer A].''\83\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \80\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
    \81\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \82\Id.; 18(a) Interview of Staffer B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer 
C.
    \83\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The next day, on May 6, 2016, another staffer informed 
Former Chief about the incident.\84\ Former Chief spoke with 
Former Staffer A later that day, and encouraged her to go to 
the police.\85\ Former Staffer A filed a police report that 
weekend.\86\ Former Staffer A then filed for a protective order 
against Mr. Baker in the District of Columbia Superior Court on 
June 21, 2016, and was granted a Temporary Restraining Order 
(``TRO'').\87\ Mr. Baker informed Representative Esty about the 
TRO on or about June 27, 2016, and discussed a potential civil 
protective order with her on or about July 2 or 3, 2016.\88\ On 
July 5, 2016, Mr. Baker and Former Staffer A appeared in court 
and agreed to a year-long civil protective order that Mr. Baker 
consented to without any admission of wrongdoing.\89\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \84\18(a) Interview of Staffer B; Exhibit 7.
    \85\18(a) Interview of Former Chief. The Committee received 
conflicting evidence as to whether Former Chief and Former Staffer A's 
discussion included Mr. Baker's mistreatment of Former Staffer A in 
2014. Former Staffer A testified that Former Chief already knew about 
Mr. Baker's mistreatment of her and that they agreed to tell 
Representative Esty everything, whereas Former Chief testified that she 
only knew--and they only decided to tell Representative Esty about--the 
events of the previous evening. 18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 
18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \86\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \87\Exhibit 8.
    \88\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
    \89\Exhibit 8; 18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          F. THE INVESTIGATION

    On May 10, 2016, Former Chief, with Former Staffer A's 
permission, sent Representative Esty an email asking her to 
give her a call that night, and stating that she needed ``to 
keep [the call] between you and me.''\90\ On that call, Former 
Chief informed Representative Esty that Mr. Baker and Former 
Staffer A had previously been in a relationship in 2013, Mr. 
Baker had egregiously threatened Former Staffer A the previous 
week, and Former Staffer A was filing a police report against 
Mr. Baker.\91\ Representative Esty spoke to Former Staffer A 
the following day, May 11, 2016.\92\ During that conversation, 
Former Staffer A testified that Representative Esty was very 
sympathetic and supportive and told her that she was going to 
make this a priority.\93\ Representative Esty said that she 
told Former Staffer A she was going to be investigating Mr. 
Baker's behavior to determine whether he was fit to continue 
his employment in her office.\94\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \90\Exhibit 9.
    \91\18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty. Both Representative Esty and Former Chief 
testified that they did not know of or discuss Mr. Baker's mistreatment 
of Former Staffer A in 2014 at this time. 18(a) Interview of Former 
Chief; 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \92\The Committee again received conflicting evidence as to whether 
this discussion between Representative Esty and Former Staffer A 
included Mr. Baker's mistreatment of Former Staffer A in 2014. Former 
Staffer A testified that they discussed everything, whereas 
Representative Esty testified that she did not learn about that 
mistreatment until several months later. 18(a) Interview of Former 
Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty. However, as 
discussed supra Section IV(C), both Former Staffer A and Representative 
Esty testified that Former Staffer A had intentionally not told 
Representative Esty of Mr. Baker's conduct in 2014 at the time of the 
conduct.
    \93\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \94\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As part of that investigation, Representative Esty asked 
Former Staffer A to speak to her personal attorney and Former 
Staffer A agreed.\95\ The following day, May 12, 2016, however, 
Former Staffer A decided she was not comfortable speaking to 
Representative Esty's attorney by herself.\96\ Representative 
Esty informed Former Chief about Former Staffer A's position 
and said she was going to talk to her private counsel the next 
morning ``to figure out how best to proceed.''\97\ 
Representative Esty also told Former Chief ``I suspect I will 
want your help to move forward the best we can to gather 
information,'' to which Former Chief responded ``Will do what I 
can to help . . .''\98\ Former Chief also told Former Staffer A 
that day that she would be interviewing the Washington, D.C., 
staff.\99\ The following day, Representative Esty discussed 
with Former Chief having her engage in ``conversations about 
office climate and practices'' with the staff.\100\ Former 
Chief replied that she would ``keep standing by'' and gave an 
update on her schedule, which included a lot of traveling in 
the following two weeks, but said she would ``make herself 
available to meet with folks as much as'' she could.\101\ Both 
Representative Esty and Former Chief testified that the purpose 
of the investigation was to determine whether Mr. Baker's 
actions on May 5, 2016, were an isolated incident or whether 
there was a pattern of behavior where Mr. Baker might have 
engaged in bad management practices or harassed members of the 
staff.\102\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \95\Exhibit 10.
    \96\Id.
    \97\Id.
    \98\Id.
    \99\Exhibit 11; 18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \100\Exhibit 12.
    \101\Id.
    \102\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty; 18(a) Interview of 
Former Chief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By May 16, 2016, Representative Esty also spoke with Mr. 
Baker about the May 5, 2016, incident.\103\ She told Mr. Baker 
that she was going to conduct an investigation and that Mr. 
Baker needed to enter into an alcohol recovery program, get 
counseling, and take anger management classes in order to 
continue working in her office.\104\ Mr. Baker offered to 
resign during that conversation, but Representative Esty 
decided to conduct an investigation into his behavior before 
accepting it.\105\ In the meantime, Representative Esty 
received confirmation from both Mr. Baker and Former Chief that 
he was, in fact, receiving counseling both for alcohol abuse 
and anger management.\106\ There was no discussion in that May 
2016 conversation of limiting Mr. Baker's role or 
responsibilities in the office, or his employment status in any 
way.\107\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \103\Exhibit 8; Exhibit 11.
    \104\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty; 18(a) Interview of Mr. 
Baker.
    \105\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty; 18(a) Interview of Mr. 
Baker.
    \106\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty. The Committee notes 
that, as of the date of his interview with Committee staff, Mr. Baker 
was still successfully participating in an alcohol recovery program. 
The Committee appreciates that Mr. Baker continued to seek treatment 
after his departure from Representative Esty's office. The Committee 
also urges members of the House community who may suffer from substance 
abuse disorders to seek help from the Office of Employee Assistance, 
which offers confidential support at no cost for individuals that may 
be experiencing those or related issues.
    \107\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Representative Esty, recalled that, in or around May 2016, 
OHEC Counsel recommended to Former Chief that the investigation 
should be led by a woman who was known to and trusted by the 
staff, which led Representative Esty to select Former Chief to 
conduct the investigation in her Washington, D.C. office.\108\ 
Representative Esty told the Committee she did not speak 
directly with OHEC at that time.\109\ Former Chief told the 
Committee that, when Representative Esty first asked her to 
conduct the investigation, she expressed some reservations 
about whether she was the appropriate person for the role, and 
Representative Esty told her she was the right person to 
conduct the investigation because ``it makes sense.''\110\ 
According to Former Chief, Representative Esty also directed 
her to discuss her concerns further with OHEC Counsel.\111\ 
Former Chief could not recall her specific conversation with 
OHEC Counsel, but recalled that she spoke with OHEC Counsel 
prior to conducting her interviews, which dates the 
conversation to May or June 2016.\112\ Former Chief added that, 
during that conversation, OHEC Counsel did not take issue with 
her conducting the investigation.\113\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \108\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty. The Committee sent a 
request to interview OHEC Counsel, but OHEC declined to participate in 
this investigation.
    \109\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty. Former Chief recalled 
that her conversation with OHEC Counsel was set up through 
Representative Esty, but could not recall the details. 18(a) Interview 
of Former Chief.
    \110\Id.
    \111\Id.
    \112\Id.
    \113\Id. Former Chief also said that Representative Esty directed 
her towards Representative Esty's private counsel, who suggested she 
was a good person to conduct the interviews. Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Campaign Treasurer--who Representative Esty selected to 
conduct the investigation in her district office--had a very 
different recollection of the events that led up to her role in 
the investigation. According to Campaign Treasurer, 
Representative Esty called her and told her that Mr. Baker was 
no longer working for her and did not provide any further 
details.\114\ Campaign Treasurer then recalled a second phone 
call approximately a week later in which Representative Esty 
asked her to meet with the members of the district office to 
``take their temperature'' about their professional development 
and office morale; Campaign Treasurer viewed this request as 
completely separate from the previous conversation concerning 
Mr. Baker.\115\ Campaign Treasurer said that there was no 
urgency in this request and it ``was more of, whenever you can 
do it within the next, say, month, month-and-a-half type of 
thing.''\116\ Representative Esty, however, told the Committee 
she asked Campaign Treasurer to look into management practices 
and morale in the district office to determine the reach of Mr. 
Baker's misconduct before she terminated Mr. Baker.\117\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \114\18(a) Interview of Campaign Treasurer.
    \115\Id.
    \116\Id.
    \117\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In the weeks that followed, Representative Esty announced 
at an all-staff meeting that Former Chief would be meeting with 
her staff members in Washington, D.C., and Campaign Treasurer 
would be meeting with her staff members in her district 
office.\118\ The Committee received conflicting evidence as to 
the purpose Representative Esty gave for these meetings, but 
they included a ``review of management,'' and ``professional 
development.''\119\ Representative Esty told the Committee she 
did not want to ``poison [Mr. Baker's] ability to remain Chief 
of Staff if it was a very isolated incident,'' and so she was 
concerned with ``how not to plant the seed that there was this 
huge problem with [Mr. Baker] [a]nd how to thread that needle 
of how do you elicit information without presupposing and 
directing here's the person, here's the issue, did you see 
this.''\120\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \118\According to a timeline created by Representative Esty's 
office in March 2018, this announcement was in ``mid-June 2016,'' 
although witnesses have said they believed it was earlier than that. 
See, e.g., Exhibit 8; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C; 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty.
    \119\18(a) Interview of Staffer C; 18(a) Interview of Staffer E.
    \120\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Even though Representative Esty appears to have determined 
by May 12, 2016, that Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer would 
interview her staffers, those interviews did not happen until 
nearly two months later, in July 2016. The Committee was not 
able to determine any particular reason for this delay. Indeed, 
Representative Esty herself told the Committee that ``[t]here's 
not a good reason,''\121\ but attributed the delay to Former 
Chief's busy schedule in an election year, stating that she 
``felt somewhat constrained,'' since she was not paying Former 
Chief and ``didn't feel in a good position to push her on going 
faster.''\122\ Former Chief said she was ready to start 
conducting her interviews in May 2016, but they did not end up 
happening until July because she was waiting for ``direction'' 
from Representative Esty.\123\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \121\Id.
    \122\Id.
    \123\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Campaign Treasurer eventually met with each of the staffers 
in Representative Esty's district office separately for 
approximately 20-30 minutes.\124\ In those conversations, 
Campaign Treasurer discussed staffers' job responsibilities and 
whether they liked the office; Mr. Baker's name or role never 
came up.\125\ Campaign Treasurer recalled recounting her 
interviews to Representative Esty a few days later, over 
dinner.\126\ Former Chief said that Representative Esty 
contacted her after Campaign Treasurer had conducted her 
interviews and told her that Campaign Treasurer ``had not 
reported to her anything out of the ordinary.''\127\ According 
to Former Chief, she received the direction needed from 
Representative Esty to begin her investigation at that 
time.\128\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \124\18(a) Interview of Campaign Treasurer. Campaign Treasurer was 
not compensated for her work in 2016, and estimated that she spent 
approximately eight hours conducting the interviews and relaying her 
notes to Representative Esty. Id.
    \125\Id.
    \126\Id. Representative Esty did not recall receiving the results 
of the interviews from Campaign Treasurer. 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty.
    \127\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \128\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Chief decided to anonymize her findings and not 
inform Representative Esty of the interviewees' identities 
after she learned from Former Staffer A that staff ``were 
fearful of reporting for fear of retribution.''\129\ Other than 
anonymity, Former Chief did not have any procedures or 
protocols that she put into place, such as asking witnesses not 
to speak to each other.\130\ Former Chief then conducted 
thirteen interviews of current and former official and campaign 
staff from July 6 to July 19, 2016.\131\ The first interview 
was on July 6, 2016, when Former Chief and Staffer C met and 
discussed both campaign management and ``office policy.''\132\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \129\Id.
    \130\Id.
    \131\Exhibit 13.
    \132\18(a) Interview of Staffer C; Exhibit 14.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Some staff had concerns that Former Chief was conducting 
these interviews given that she was not an impartial party and 
had no previous investigative experience.\133\ One staffer 
described it as ``shad[y]'': ``we're going to have [Former 
Chief], [Representative Esty's] trusted campaign person, have 
private meetings with each person with everyone one-on-one in 
this weird order that she decides.''\134\ In addition, staffers 
were not sure they could be honest with Former Chief, given her 
close relationship with Mr. Baker. This fear may have been due 
in part to comments Mr. Baker made in the office that he and 
Former Chief had an ``arrangement'' by which Mr. Baker had 
always made Former Chief look good in front of Representative 
Esty, and so now Former Chief ``owed'' Mr. Baker.\135\ Mr. 
Baker denied ever making such a statement, and explained that 
he presented a united front with Former Chief in front of 
Representative Esty, so as not to undercut or make Former Chief 
look bad.\136\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \133\18(a) Interview of Staffer C, 18(a) Interview of Former 
Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Staffer B.
    \134\Id.
    \135\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
    \136\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    There was also concern among staff about the amount of time 
the investigation was taking, and the fact that Mr. Baker was 
kept in his position with no changes made to his roles or 
responsibilities.\137\ Some staffers were also generally 
concerned about and uncomfortable with working in the office 
with Mr. Baker after the events of May 5, 2016, and one staffer 
even left Representative Esty's official office in part because 
he ``wanted to work with [Mr. Baker] as little as possible'' in 
light of his actions toward Former Staffer A.\138\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \137\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of 
Staffer B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
    \138\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of 
Staffer B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On July 20, 2016, Former Chief presented Representative 
Esty with a written report of her findings based on her 
interviews titled ``Office Assessment.'' These findings 
included that Mr. Baker:

        engages in a pattern and practice of emotionally and 
        abusive behavior towards female staff members. Verbal 
        and physical abuse, including bullying, toward 
        individual staff members has been exhibited and 
        witnessed by other members of the staff. The Chief of 
        Staff has consolidated information and power, isolating 
        the member and increased the propensity for the Chief 
        of Staff to abuse that power.\139\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \139\Exhibit 4.

    The assessment also found that ``[a] lack of oversight on 
the part of the member has allowed the behavior to continue 
unmitigated,'' and ``[a]n open door policy is not enough,'' 
explaining that ``Capitol Hill practices prevent staff from 
elevating grievances to the member's attention, operating 
outside the chain of command, or discussing grievances outside 
the office.''\140\ The assessment included a series of 
recommendations, the first of which was that Mr. Baker should 
be asked to resign.\141\ The other recommendations included 
staff briefings on the actions being taken and House services 
for professional development and Human Resources; required 
weekly one-on-ones between senior and junior staff; regular 
reviews of all staff including management, including peer and 
junior staffers reviewing management; prioritizing direct 
junior staff time with the member; and clearly-defined 
expectations of appropriate office behavior.\142\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \140\Id.
    \141\Id.
    \142\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Former Chief testified that Representative Esty seemed 
concerned and upset when she presented her with the assessment 
on July 20, 2016, as if this information was new to her.\143\ 
Representative Esty said she found the results ``shocking and 
sickening'' and felt ``physically ill'' and ``horrified and 
betrayed by someone who [she] trusted.''\144\ Representative 
Esty testified that she decided to fire Mr. Baker that day--
July 20, 2016--but because she wanted to ensure that it was 
done quickly and ``with as little ongoing damage to the 
office'' as possible, she consulted with counsel.\145\ 
According to Representative Esty, she first discussed the 
matter with her private counsel, who reached out to OHEC, and 
OHEC confirmed to him that they would be involved in handling 
Mr. Baker's termination.\146\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \143\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \144\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \145\Id.
    \146\Id. The Committee was not able to pinpoint the exact dates of 
these first conversations, but based on the fact that Representative 
Esty was in regular communication with OHEC Counsel the following week, 
they likely occurred between July 20-24, 2016.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                       G. MR. BAKER'S TERMINATION

    The Democratic National Convention (``DNC'') took place the 
following week, from July 25-28, 2016, and Representative Esty 
attended, along with Mr. Baker and several other members of her 
congressional staff. Mr. Baker said that he did not interact 
much with the other staffers during the DNC.\147\ 
Representative Esty said she was not concerned about Mr. 
Baker's attendance, however, because Mr. Baker was not 
supervising any of the other staffers during the event.\148\ 
The week of the DNC was, however, ``an exceptionally awkward 
situation,'' according to Representative Esty, as she had 
already decided to terminate Mr. Baker and was on the phone 
``hours a day'' with OHEC Counsel and other advisors to 
determine how best to effectuate his departure.\149\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \147\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
    \148\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \149\Id. Staffer C likewise said that Representative Esty told him 
around the time of the DNC that she was going to fire Mr. Baker, and 
then had a number of conversations with her private counsel and OHEC. 
18(a) Interview of Staffer C; Exhibit 8; Exhibit 15.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On or about July 28, 2016, Representative Esty asked Mr. 
Baker to meet with her. She told him she received the results 
of the investigation and was very upset, disappointed, and felt 
betrayed. Representative Esty recalls telling Mr. Baker that he 
was being terminated, he was not to return to the office, and 
he should work from home while she worked out the logistics of 
his termination.\150\ Mr. Baker also understood from that 
conversation that he ``was not going to be employed in the 
office anymore,'' and he took vacation leave from the office 
the following week at Representative Esty's direction.\151\ Mr. 
Baker recalled Representative Esty telling him that Former 
Chief was going to reach out to him to give him an opportunity 
to tell his side of the story, and that she wanted him to 
cooperate fully and be his ``best self.''\152\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \150\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \151\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker; Exhibit 16; Exhibit 17.
    \152\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On July 29, 2016, Former Chief sought guidance from OHEC on 
interviewing Mr. Baker.\153\ Following that conversation, an 
OHEC employee sent Former Chief a document titled 
``Confidential: Sexual Harassment Investigations'' which Former 
Chief used to help her prepare for Mr. Baker's interview.\154\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \153\18(a) Interview of Former Chief. Former Chief said that she 
asked OHEC Counsel if she was the right person to conduct the interview 
and OHEC Counsel told her that involving an outside investigator at 
this point, who was unfamiliar with the allegations, would take 
additional time and effort. Id.
    \154\Id.; Exhibit 18; Exhibit 19.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On August 1, 2016, Former Chief interviewed Mr. Baker. 
Former Chief said that the purpose of this interview was to 
provide Mr. Baker ``an opportunity to defend himself, or to 
counter the allegations.''\155\ Mr. Baker brought a letter of 
resignation to that interview, but Former Chief told him she 
was not empowered to receive the letter and would instead pass 
that information to Representative Esty.\156\ Former Chief then 
prepared a memorandum of Mr. Baker's interview which she 
believes she presented to Representative Esty, although 
Representative Esty did not recall that presentation.\157\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \155\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \156\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker; 18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \157\Exhibit 6; 18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty. In total, Former Chief estimated that she worked 
over 80 hours on preparing for, conducting, and preparing final work 
product for the investigation in 2016, which she was not compensated 
for. Former Chief also told the Committee that this uncompensated work 
interfered with her ability to do her day job. 18(a) Interview of 
Former Chief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Following Mr. Baker's interview with Former Chief, 
Representative Esty and OHEC further discussed on the phone and 
by email how to effectuate his termination. In an August 2, 
2016, email, which referenced previous phone conversations 
between Representative Esty and OHEC Counsel, OHEC Counsel 
directed Representative Esty to:

        Let [Mr. Baker] know that he will need to sign a 
        severance agreement and release and, in accordance with 
        the rules of the House and the needs of my office, you 
        have decided to structure his severance package as 
        follows:

          Option A: He will remain on the payroll as paid 
        severance for __ month(s) without reporting to work or 
        performing any services, and at the end of that time 
        period he will be kept on the payroll for an additional 
        __ days to pay for his __ days of unused accrued annual 
        leave. Under this scenario, he will remain on the 
        office's payroll without reporting to work through 
        [DATE].
                                          -OR-
          Option B: He will remain on the payroll as paid 
        severance for __ month(s) without reporting to work or 
        performing any services, and at the end of his 
        employment the office will pay him a lump sum payment 
        [of [sic] one month [sic] salary, which includes a cash 
        reimbursement for his __ days of unused accrued annual 
        leave. Any payment of a lump sum cannot exceed 1/12th 
        of the Speaker's Pay Order. Seek guidance from Payroll 
        and Benefits to ensure full compliance with this rule.
                                          -OR-
          Option C: He will receive a single lump sum payment 
        for his severance and unused annual leave combined that 
        cannot exceed 1/12 of the Speaker's Pay Order. This is 
        the least generous option.\158\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \158\Exhibit 20.

    According to Representative Esty, OHEC Counsel was ``quite 
emphatic about the need to have a severance agreement and 
confidentiality'' and ``it was repeated over and over again: 
You absolutely need to do this to protect yourself, your 
family, and the office, because a senior person can say 
terrible things. He may be very upset. He could destroy your 
reputation with things that are not even true.''\159\ 
Representative Esty was unsure what was appropriate in this 
situation, but chose Option C, the least generous option, 
because she was ``taking the advice of House counsel,'' 
``want[ed] to be done with it,'' ``cauterize'' it, and didn't 
want ``to prolong the agony around this and certainly [didn't 
want] to provoke anything worse.''\160\ Former Chief agreed 
that it made sense at the time for Mr. Baker to be paid a 
severance because they wanted him to ``leave quietly'' without 
causing any further harm to any staffers and ``this was the 
quickest way to get him out of the office'' and out of 
Washington, D.C.\161\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \159\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \160\Id.; see also 18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
    \161\Id. Former Chief also acknowledged that they wanted Mr. Baker 
to leave quietly so as not to hurt Representative Esty's re-election 
chances, although that was ``not a primary motivating factor.'' Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On August 5, 2016, Representative Esty traveled to 
Washington, D.C., to meet with OHEC Counsel to discuss Mr. 
Baker's termination. After their meeting, OHEC Counsel sent 
Representative Esty a draft termination agreement, which 
included provisions for a letter of recommendation and limited 
reference outside of Washington, D.C., a lump sum payment to 
cover Mr. Baker's work in August, his unused paid leave, and a 
``severance'' to bring the total lump sum payment up to the 
Speaker's Pay Order cap (this amount was estimated in the draft 
agreement, but was finalized in the amount of $5,041.67), and 
non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions.\162\ 
Representative Esty also met with Mr. Baker later that day to 
discuss the termination agreement.\163\ Mr. Baker testified 
that Representative Esty told him this was ``how the House 
handles things,'' and that he did not try to negotiate anything 
but accepted what Representative Esty proposed.\164\ On March 
28, 2018, shortly before the news stories broke concerning Mr. 
Baker's departure from her office, Representative Esty repaid 
the U.S. Treasury for the $5,041.67 in severance.\165\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \162\Exhibit 21.
    \163\Exhibit 22.
    \164\18(a) Interview of Mr. Baker. Representative Esty and Mr. 
Baker executed the Agreement on August 10, 2016. Exhibit 23. Mr. 
Baker's last day on the payroll was August 12, 2016.
    \165\Exhibit 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On August 8, 2016, Representative Esty had an all-staff 
meeting in which she told the rest of the staff that Mr. Baker 
had left to go back to his home state of Ohio.\166\ 
Representative Esty also told them that she was subject to a 
non-disclosure agreement and could not say much more about the 
reasons for his departure.\167\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \166\Exhibit 15; 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \167\Exhibit 15; 18(a) Interview of Staffer E; 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

              H. EVENTS FOLLOWING MR. BAKER'S TERMINATION

    After Mr. Baker's termination, Representative Esty took 
steps to implement some of the other recommended actions from 
Former Chief's Office Assessment. These included making changes 
in her office with respect to performance reviews and improving 
office policies.\168\ With respect to the performance reviews, 
Representative Esty and her current Chief of Staff instituted a 
formal and comprehensive annual performance review process 
which they have conducted for the past two years.\169\ While 
Representative Esty recalled giving her current Chief of Staff 
a formal oral performance review, he told the Committee he had 
not yet received an official performance review in the two 
years he has held the Chief of Staff position.\170\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \168\18(a) Interview of Staffer D.
    \169\Id.
    \170\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty; 18(a) Interview of 
Staffer D.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Representative Esty's office has also worked on making 
Representative Esty more accessible and available to all staff 
in both formal and informal ways.\171\ Representative Esty's 
office updated the Employee Handbook on March 14, 2017, which 
now lists Representative Esty as a resource for staffers to go 
to under the Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination 
Policy.\172\ These changes were reaffirmed to staffers in a 
staff retreat in March 2017, in all-staff meetings, and in 
emails to staff from her current Chief of Staff.\173\ 
Representative Esty and her staffers also all attended a 
mandatory sexual harassment training provided by OHEC in March 
2017, and, for those hired later that year, another training 
was organized in December 2017.\174\ When the House acted to 
require that all Members, officers, and employees complete 
sexual harassment training during each session of Congress, 
beginning in 2018, Representative Esty elected for her and her 
office to participate in the most extensive version.\175\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \171\Exhibit 24; 18(a) Interview of Staffer D.
    \172\Exhibit 25; 18(a) Interview of Staffer D. Staffer D said it 
was also intended that Representative Esty be considered as a resource 
for staffers to go to under the Open Door policy, but that edit was 
inadvertently omitted. Id.
    \173\Id.; Exhibit 26.
    \174\Exhibit 24; Exhibit 26; Exhibit 27.
    \175\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty; H. Res. 630, 115th 
Cong. (2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Since replacing Mr. Baker, updating the office policies in 
the Employee Handbook, and instituting mandatory harassment 
trainings, staffers have felt comfortable relaying concerns to 
supervisors in Representative Esty's official and district 
offices. The Committee heard testimony about a few instances in 
which a staffer in one of Representative Esty's offices heard 
something which made that individual feel uncomfortable, 
relayed that information to a supervisor, and the matter was 
quickly investigated and resolved to the staffer's 
satisfaction.\176\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \176\18(a) Interview of Staffer D; 18(a) Interview of 
Representative Esty; Exhibit 28.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              V. FINDINGS


                    A. SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

    Mr. Baker's behavior toward Former Staffer A was 
unacceptable. Screaming, yelling, derogatory comments, threats 
of reprisal, and use of physical force are not appropriate 
behavior in any work environment, especially a congressional 
office. His conduct implicates clause 9 of the Code of Official 
Conduct, which prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of 
discrimination.\177\ Sexual harassment is also prohibited under 
the CAA, which subjected Congress to a number of federal 
employment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 
1964. Sexual harassment may be actionable ``in either of two 
circumstances: the grant or denial of an economic quid pro quo 
in exchange for sexual favors, or discrimination that has 
created a hostile or abusive work environment.''\178\ A hostile 
work environment is one where the ``workplace is permeated with 
discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult'' and these 
behaviors are ``sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the 
conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive 
working environment.''\179\ Even if a Member or staffer's 
conduct does not constitute sexual harassment under the 
demanding legal standards of federal case law,\180\ such 
conduct may nonetheless violate clauses 1 and 2 of the Code of 
Official Conduct. Clause 1 provides that Members and employees 
of the House ``shall behave at all times in a manner that shall 
reflect creditably on the House.'' It is a ``purposefully . . . 
. subjective'' standard.\181\ Clause 2 requires adherence to 
``the spirit and the letter'' of House Rules.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \177\House Rule XXIII, c. 9. The Committee has long held ``that 
sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination,'' and that such 
behavior violates clause 9. Ethics Manual at 268-69. On February 6, 
2018, the House amended clause 9 to confirm that ``committing an act of 
sexual harassment'' is prohibited under the Rule.
    \178\Gary v. Long, 59 F.3d 1391, 1395 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (citations 
omitted).
    \179\Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993).
    \180\See Tucker v. Johnson, 211 F.Supp.3d 95, 101 (D.D.C. 2016) 
(citation omitted) (describing the legal standard for Title VII claims 
in the D.C. circuit as ``demanding'').
    \181\114 Cong. Rec. 8778 (Apr. 3, 1968) (Statement of 
Representative Price).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    There is no question that Mr. Baker's abusive actions 
towards Former Staffer A, both during and after her employment 
in Representative Esty's office, did not reflect creditably on 
Representative Esty's office or the House as a whole, in 
violation of clause 1 of the Code. His actions during Former 
Staffer A's employment in Representative Esty's office were 
also inconsistent with, at minimum, the spirit of the 
prohibition on sexual harassment, in violation of clause 2. 
However, because Mr. Baker is no longer a House employee, the 
Committee does not have jurisdiction over him. Accordingly, the 
Committee's investigation instead focused on whether 
Representative Esty's actions--or lack thereof in connection 
with Mr. Baker's behavior violated applicable ethics standards.
    Under Title VII jurisprudence, employers may be held 
vicariously liable for sexual harassment by a supervisory 
employee.\182\ The Committee has also long held, in other 
contexts, that a Member is generally responsible for violations 
of the Code of Conduct that occur in their offices.\183\ This 
is true even where the Committee has not found evidence that 
the Member was aware that the underlying misconduct took 
place.\184\ However, the Committee has declined to hold Members 
accountable for their employees' misconduct where they have 
taken appropriate actions to prevent or stop that 
misconduct.\185\ To determine whether Representative Esty bears 
responsibility for Mr. Baker's behavior, the Committee's 
investigation explored: (1) when Representative Esty knew about 
Mr. Baker's inappropriate behavior toward Former Staffer A; and 
(2) whether Representative Esty exercised reasonable care to 
prevent and promptly correct Mr. Baker's behavior once she 
learned of it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \182\Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998); 
Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 747 (1998). The 
Faragher and Ellerth decisions held that an employer is vicariously 
liable for actionable harassment by a supervisor but the employer may 
assert an affirmative defense to liability when no tangible employment 
action was taken. Faragher, 524 U.S. at 807, Ellerth 524 U.S. at 765. 
The affirmative defense requires the employer to show 1) ``the employer 
exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually 
harassing behavior,'' and 2) ``that the plaintiff employee unreasonably 
failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective 
opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise.'' 
Faragher, 542 U.S. at 807.
    \183\See Comm. on Ethics, In the Matter of Allegations Relating to 
Representative Laura Richardson, H. Rpt. 112-642, 112th Cong. 2d Sess. 
97 (``Members are responsible for violations that occur in their 
office, and cannot shield themselves from liability by using staff as a 
proxy for wrongdoing''); Comm. on Ethics, In the Matter of Allegations 
Related to Representative Ed Whitfield, H. Rept.114-687, 114th Cong., 
2d Sess. 44 (The Committee found that Representative Whitfield violated 
House rules ``by failing to establish clear guidelines and limits for 
his staff, which resulted in impermissible lobbying contacts between 
the staff and his wife''); Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, 
Investigation Into Officially Connected Travel of House Members to 
Attend the Carib News Foundation Multi-National Business Conferences in 
2007 and 2008, H. Rpt. 111-142, 111th Cong. 2d Sess. 192 
(2010)(``[B]ased on the Standards Committee's longstanding precedent . 
. . the Subcommittee finds that it would not well serve the House as an 
institution to allow its Members to escape responsibility by delegating 
authority to their staff to take actions and hide behind their lack of 
knowledge of the facts surrounding those actions . . .'').
    \184\Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of 
Representative E.G. ``Bud'' Shuster, H. Rpt. 106-979, 106th Cong. 2d 
Sess. 64 (2000) (hereinafter Shuster).
    \185\Comm. on Ethics, In the Matter of Allegations Relating to 
Representative Maxine Waters, H. Rpt. 112-690, 112th Cong. 2d Sess. 7-
8.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Representative Esty's knowledge of Mr. Baker's misconduct prior to 
        May 2016

    The Committee was presented with unrefuted evidence that 
Representative Esty was unaware of Mr. Baker's behavior towards 
Former Staffer A until at least May 2016. The Committee heard 
from all relevant witnesses that Mr. Baker's treatment of 
Former Staffer A was hidden from Representative Esty while it 
was ongoing, such that Representative Esty ``could [not] have 
known'' that the mistreatment was occurring.\186\ To some 
extent, this may have been a product of the office structure 
created by Representative Esty. Several staffers in 
Representative Esty's office did not feel they could address 
their concerns about Mr. Baker directly with her.\187\ 
Representative Esty herself noted that Mr. Baker ``managed up'' 
to her in a way that prevented her from hearing of concerns 
directly from her D.C. staff.\188\ However, Former Staffer A 
testified that she believed she could have told Representative 
Esty about the mistreatment, and that Representative Esty would 
have taken immediate and decisive action, but, due to her 
concern for her career and Representative Esty's political 
future, she decided not to report Mr. Baker's 
mistreatment.\189\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \186\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of Mr. 
Baker; 18(a) Interview of Staffer B.
    \187\See supra Section IV(A).
    \188\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \189\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is not a criticism of Former Staffer A's decision to 
keep this abuse from Representative Esty. Former Staffer A 
testified that Mr. Baker threatened to retaliate against her if 
she reported his behavior, and, perhaps most insidiously, told 
her that reporting his behavior would hurt Representative Esty. 
The Committee recognizes that individuals working for elected 
officials may fear the political consequences of reporting 
misconduct. In the Committee's view, it is imperative that 
Members and the whole House community should strive to make 
staff aware of the resources that are available to them, and to 
try to ensure that staff feel comfortable making use of those 
resources, which should include their employing Member, OOC, 
the Office of Employee Assistance, the newly created Office of 
Employee Advocacy, and the Committee itself. The Committee also 
takes this opportunity to urge any individual in the House 
community who has suffered or witnessed abuse perpetrated by 
any other individual in the House community to report that 
abuse to one of those entities.

2. Representative Esty's efforts to prevent and correct Mr. Baker's 
        misconduct

    The record shows that, once Representative Esty learned of 
allegations that Mr. Baker's acted abusively towards a former 
staffer, she took steps to investigate Mr. Baker's behavior 
throughout his employment in her office and, when she received 
the results of that investigation, terminated him. While the 
Committee found that, as she herself acknowledged to the 
Committee, Representative Esty could have better handled the 
investigation into Mr. Baker's behavior, the Committee also 
found that, particularly in light of the guidance she was given 
by OHEC, Representative Esty's actions during that time period 
warrant no further action.
    Representative Esty testified that, on May 10, 2016, she 
learned about Mr. Baker's treatment of Former Staffer A after 
the happy hour event, at which time she also learned for the 
first time that they had previously been in a relationship. 
While the Committee received conflicting evidence as to the 
exact details and timeline of the following week, what is clear 
is that in the days that followed, Representative Esty: (1) 
talked to Former Staffer A to discuss what she had learned and 
let her know she would be looking into Mr. Baker's behavior; 
(2) talked to Mr. Baker to inform him that she knew about the 
May 5, 2016, incident, that she was going to be conducting an 
investigation, and that he needed to stop drinking, get into an 
alcohol recovery program, and go to anger management and any 
other therapy program that might be helpful; (3) conferred with 
counsel as to how best to proceed going forward; and (4) asked 
Former Chief to interview staffers in her Washington, D.C., 
office about office management practices and morale in the 
office. At some point, Representative Esty also asked Campaign 
Treasurer to interview staffers in her district office about 
office management practices and morale in the office. 
Representative Esty then announced in an all-staff meeting that 
Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer would be meeting with 
staffers, although she did not detail the true reason behind 
these meetings. The interviews were conducted in July 2016.
    Many of these steps were consistent with Representative 
Esty's duty to maintain a safe and non-discriminatory 
workplace. When faced with allegations of this magnitude, it is 
wholly appropriate for Members to seek to investigate and 
better understand the underlying conduct. However, there were 
problems with this sequence of events.
    First, by selecting individuals who had pre-existing 
personal and professional relationships with both 
Representative Esty and the other individuals involved, and had 
no formal training as investigators, Representative Esty did 
not give the investigation the proper impartiality or 
professionalism it needed. While it is understandable that 
Representative Esty and Former Chief believed that it would be 
appropriate to have someone who knew the individuals involved, 
and who ``had [Former Staffer A's] confidence and trust,''\190\ 
interview the Washington, D.C., staffers, this selection 
unnecessarily muddied the waters as to the purpose of the staff 
interviews and the motives of those conducting them. As 
explained above, some of Representative Esty's staff had 
significant concerns that Former Chief was biased towards Mr. 
Baker, which was in part inflamed by Mr. Baker's own statements 
in the office. Representative Esty herself acknowledged that, 
``with the benefit of hindsight,'' she would have hired outside 
counsel to do a formal investigation.\191\
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    \190\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \191\Id. (explaining her hindsight view to be based on ``different 
sensitivities now and different awareness now and . . . more to the 
point, hearing from staff . . . in 2017, 2018, that they might have 
been uncomfortable'' with the Former Chief leading the investigation.)
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    The Committee also notes that accepting the services of 
Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer without providing 
compensation, was inconsistent with House Rule XXIV, which 
generally prohibits the use of private donations, funds, or in-
kind goods or services to support the activities of, or pay the 
expenses of, a congressional office. To the Committee's 
knowledge, OHEC never advised on or flagged the question of 
compensation for Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer.\192\ The 
Committee's investigation was focused on the issues of 
combatting sexual harassment and the propriety of severance 
payments; accordingly, the Committee declined to further review 
this issue.
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    \192\Id. (``OHEC, they knew what I was looking to do. [They] [a]t 
no point advised anything on, you need to pay someone to do this, [or] 
if somebody does it for free . . . That was never raised by anybody.'')
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    Second, the Committee also found it concerning that 
Representative Esty did not provide any guidance or structure 
to Former Chief and Campaign Treasurer as to how to conduct 
their investigations or how to present the information to her 
upon its completion. Neither Former Chief nor Campaign 
Treasurer were experienced trained investigators or reviewed 
materials on how to conduct investigations before conducting 
their reviews.\193\ According to Representative Esty, Campaign 
Treasurer was going to pass the results of her investigation 
along to Former Chief, and Former Chief ``was going to take the 
responsibility for co-writing'' the results of both 
investigations.\194\ According to both Former Chief and 
Campaign Treasurer, however, they had no contact with each 
other about their investigations and presented their results 
separately: Former Chief in a written document and Campaign 
Treasurer orally.\195\ Former Chief explained that she never 
spoke with Campaign Treasurer ``[b]ecause [she] understood that 
[Campaign Treasurer] had spoken to the Congresswoman and gave 
her a report.''\196\
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    \193\18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of Campaign 
Treasurer.
    \194\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \195\18(a) Interview of Former Chief; 18(a) Interview of Campaign 
Treasurer.
    \196\18(a) Interview of Former Chief.
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    Finally, there is no apparent or justifiable reason for the 
lengthy delay in conducting the investigation, during which Mr. 
Baker remained in the office as Chief of Staff. This delay is 
especially concerning given that Mr. Baker's role and 
responsibilities were not limited in the office during the 
investigation. As a result, staff members were put in the 
uncomfortable position of telling Former Chief about Mr. 
Baker's inappropriate behavior while still reporting to 
him.\197\
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    \197\18(a) Interview of Former Staffer A; 18(a) Interview of 
Staffer B; 18(a) Interview of Staffer C.
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    The Committee does not mean to suggest that the work Former 
Chief performed was unsatisfactory.\198\ Indeed, the evidence 
in the record reflects that, once she began interviewing 
staffers on July 6, 2016, Former Chief conducted an impressive 
review, interviewing thirteen current and former staff of both 
the official and campaign sides in fourteen days, drafting and 
presenting an Office Assessment for the Member's review the day 
after completing her interviews, and then interviewing Mr. 
Baker two weeks later. Representative Esty could have done 
more, however, to set up proper parameters which could ensure a 
reliable result from the investigation.
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    \198\Given the lack of documentary evidence surrounding Campaign 
Treasurer's investigation, it is more difficult for the Committee to 
assess its adequacy. As Campaign Treasurer told Committee Staff, Mr. 
Baker did not even come up in her interviews. 18(a) Interview of 
Campaign Treasurer. Whether that was because district staff had not 
either been subjected to or witnessed any mistreatment, or because they 
were unaware as to the true purpose of the investigation, is unclear, 
but remains another outstanding question the Committee has as to the 
methodology of the investigation.
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    Even before the internal investigation, Representative Esty 
did not structure her office in the best manner to prevent 
discriminatory conduct. Representative Esty allowed Mr. Baker 
to cut off access and manage up to her, such that other 
staffers did not feel comfortable reporting Mr. Baker's 
behavior to her.\199\ After Mr. Baker's departure, however, 
Representative Esty instituted new policies to ensure staffers 
have more direct access to her and encourage reporting of any 
inappropriate behavior.
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    \199\See 18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
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    The Committee recognizes that Members have broad discretion 
to fix the terms and conditions of the staff members they 
employ and that final employing authority rests with them.\200\ 
Nevertheless, Members are ultimately responsible for ensuring 
their offices function in accordance with applicable standards 
and they also must ``take account of the manner in which their 
actions may be perceived.''\201\ Representative Esty could have 
better handled the situation when, after learning of Mr. 
Baker's inappropriate behavior towards Former Staffer A, she 
continued to employ him with no changes to his role or 
responsibilities and leisurely conducted an opaque ``review of 
management practices'' by close friends who were uncompensated. 
Representative Esty acknowledged this failing when, in her 
testimony to the Committee, she stated that if she could do it 
over again, she ``would have suspended [Mr. Baker] 
immediately,'' and ``either gotten outside counsel or OHEC or 
somebody who was trained in doing investigations to come in 
rapidly and do it in a matter of [] a week or two.''\202\ 
Given, however, that the Committee had not previously issued 
guidance on this issue, Representative Esty relied on the 
advice of OHEC, conducted an investigation which resulted in a 
recommendation to terminate Mr. Baker, and promptly followed 
that recommendation, the Committee found that Representative 
Esty's actions warrant no further action. The Committee also 
commends Representative Esty for the remedial steps taken in 
her office since Mr. Baker's termination, which appear to have 
created a much improved environment.
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    \200\Members' Handbook at p. 4; Exhibit 2 at 3.
    \201\Shuster at 64.
    \202\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
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    In the future, however, the Committee expects this Report 
to put Members on notice that they are expected to institute 
feedback mechanisms and foster norms of communication in their 
offices to encourage the reporting of any potential misconduct, 
and to swiftly and adequately address any such reports. In 
situations like the instant case, Members would be well-served 
to utilize and properly compensate independent parties to 
conduct rapid and thorough investigations into the allegations, 
and then take decisive action once they receive results.
    Members and employees alike should be able to work free 
from harassment or abuse of any kind. The Committee notes that 
House Resolution 630, which was passed on November 29, 2017, 
requires each Member, Officer, and employee of the House to 
complete an education program focused on workplace rights and 
responsibilities. The Committee is hopeful that this will 
increase awareness of sexual harassment and discrimination in 
the workplace, encourage Members and staff to identify any 
issues that may arise in their offices, and educate Members and 
staff about the range of resources available to them.

             B. PAYMENT OF LUMP SUM SEVERANCE TO MR. BAKER

    The payments made to Mr. Baker in connection with his 
termination from Representative Esty's office raise questions 
as to whether Representative Esty violated House Rule XXIII, 
clause 8. The Committee reviewed this issue and concluded that 
Representative Esty did not violate any House Rules in 
connection with Mr. Baker's termination payments.\203\
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    \203\As discussed above, OCE began a preliminary review into 
whether Representative Esty ``authorized compensation to a former 
employee who did not perform duties commensurate with the compensation 
the employee received,'' but terminated that review and did not 
transmit a referral to the Committee. See supra n.2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Clause 8 states ``[a] Member . . . of the House may not 
retain an employee who does not perform duties for the offices 
of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation 
such employee receives.'' The Code of Ethics for Government 
Service further instructs every employee to ``[g]ive a full 
day's labor for a full day's pay,''\204\ and federal law 
requires that appropriated funds are to be used solely for 
purposes for which appropriated.\205\ CHA regulations require 
employing Members to submit monthly salary certifications for 
their staff to ensure compliance with applicable 
regulations.\206\
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    \204\Code of Ethics for Government Service 3.
    \205\31 U.S.C. 1301(a). See also Ethics Manual at 279.
    \206\Members' Handbook at 4; Exhibit 2 at 3-4. See also Ethics 
Manual at 277.
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    Notwithstanding these restrictions, the ``general terms, 
conditions, and specific duties of House employees 
traditionally have been within the discretion of the employing 
Member.''\207\ Accordingly, while a staffer is instructed to 
``give a full day's labor for a full day's pay,'' the employing 
Member may dictate what a ``full day's labor'' consists of.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \207\Ethics Manual at 267; see also Members' Handbook at 4 (``the 
Member determines the terms and conditions of employment and service 
for their staff.''); Exhibit 2 at 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Clause 8 aims to prevent fraud or misuse of the House 
payroll, particularly the use of ``ghost employee'' schemes. In 
such schemes, an employee is recorded on the payroll, but--with 
the Member's knowledge--does not perform official work 
equivalent to the earnings he or she collects. The Committee 
has historically found violations of the ``ghost employee'' 
rule in cases where Members have knowingly converted official 
funds, originally disbursed as staff compensation, for their 
personal financial benefit or other unauthorized use.\208\ The 
Committee also found violations of the ``ghost employee'' rule 
where a Member did not profit or otherwise obtain a financial 
benefit from the misuse of official funds appropriated for 
staff compensation, but retained and paid an employee even 
though the Member knew the employee was not physically present 
to perform official work.\209\
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    \208\See Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of 
Representative Charles H. Diggs, Jr., H. Rept. 96-351, 96th Cong., 1st 
Sess. 5-6, 44 (1979). See also Ethics Manual at 5.
    \209\See, e.g., Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the 
Matter of Representative Austin J. Murphy, H. Rept. 100-485, 100th 
Cong., 1st Sess. 4 (1987); Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, 
Summary of Activities, One Hundredth Congress, H. Rept. 100-1125, 100th 
Cong., 2d Sess. 15-16 (In the Matter of Delegate Fofo I.F. Sunia and 
Matthew K. Iuli); Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter 
of Representative Charles H. Wilson, H. Rept. 96-930, 96th Cong., 2d. 
Sess. 2 (1980).
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    The Committee considered whether Representative Esty's 
payment of severance to Mr. Baker was a violation of clause 8. 
On July 20, 2016, after receiving Former Chief's Office 
Assessment, Representative Esty immediately decided that Mr. 
Baker needed to be terminated, and began taking steps to 
effectuate his departure, including seeking guidance from OHEC 
the following week.\210\ After receiving guidance from OHEC 
Counsel about the need to enter into a severance agreement with 
Mr. Baker, and being presented with three potential severance 
options on August 2, 2016, Representative Esty selected the 
least generous severance option available, which gave Mr. Baker 
a lump sum ``severance'' payment of $5,041.67.\211\
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    \210\18(a) Interview of Representative Esty.
    \211\Id.; Exhibit 20; Exhibit 23.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    House Rule XXIII, clause 8 states, ``[a] Member . . . of 
the House may not retain an employee who does not perform 
duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate 
with the compensation such employee receives.'' The Members' 
Handbook advises that Members may issue lump sum payments to 
congressional employees ``for any purpose'' consistent with 
House Rule XXIII, clause 8(a), and the rules enumerated in the 
Handbook.\212\ The Committee has previously provided guidance 
that lump sum end-of-the year bonuses or other one-time 
payments recognizing a particular accomplishment are generally 
permissible.\213\ Such payments are consistent with the 
Committee's longstanding guidance that ``[b]efore making any 
lump sum payment, a Member must be satisfied that the employee 
has performed services for the congressional office that are 
commensurate with the amount the employee is to be paid in the 
lump sum combined with his or her regular salary.''\214\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \212\Members' Handbook at 11. See also Exhibit 2 at 8-9; 2 U.S.C. 
Sec.  4537 (providing that House employees may be paid ``lump sums'' 
for any purpose in an amount less than the monthly pay of the employee, 
and granting CHA authority to prescribe related regulations.).
    \213\Ethics Manual at 284.
    \214\Id. at 283.
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    A lump sum payment of severance does not necessarily run 
afoul of clause 8, but leaving an employee on House payroll for 
a period of time when they are not performing official work, as 
``severance,'' does.\215\ Knowingly paying an absentee employee 
a salary is a violation of clause 8.\216\ Thus, the Committee 
cautions Members that the first two options presented by OHEC 
Counsel to Representative Esty, which both include 
``remain[ing] on the payroll as paid severance for ___ month(s) 
without reporting to work or performing any services,'' are in 
violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 8.\217\
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    \215\The question of the permissibility of severance under clause 8 
has been a longstanding subject of discussions between the Committee's 
non-partisan staff, OHEC, and CHA staff, and will continue to be in 
order to provide clearer guidance to the House community. In prior 
Congresses, Committee staff may have given inconsistent guidance as to 
whether leaving an employee on the payroll as part of a negotiated 
severance agreement violates clause 8. The Committee itself did not 
have a chance to weigh in on this question until it did so recently in 
the matter of Representative Meadows.
    \216\This does not prohibit a Member from placing an employee on 
administrative leave while investigating allegations of misconduct, so 
long as the paid administrative leave is in accordance with office 
policy and for a reasonable period of time for an investigation.
    \217\There may be circumstances where ``severance'' may be provided 
in the form of extra paid leave at the end of a staffer's employment, 
on the grounds that such leave is part of the expected compensation for 
the position. In those circumstances, the ``severance'' practice must 
be part of a uniformly applied written policy.
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    Representative Esty paid a lump sum payment to Mr. Baker, 
relying on the advice of OHEC, in exchange for his waiver of 
any legal claims and various additional commitments to ensure a 
smooth transition, such as writing an exit memo and 
surrendering all his passwords and equipment. Accordingly, the 
Committee found that she did not violate any House Rules in 
connection with Mr. Baker's termination payments. As noted 
above, on March 28, 2018, shortly before the news stories broke 
concerning Mr. Baker's departure from her office, 
Representative Esty repaid the U.S. Treasury for the $5,041.67 
in severance, but she was not required to do so.\218\
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    \218\See supra nn.5 & 163.
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  C. REPRESENTATIVE ESTY'S CONDUCT WARRANTS NO FURTHER ACTION BY THE 
                               COMMITTEE

    The Committee concluded that while Representative Esty 
could have better handled Mr. Baker's termination, her actions 
do not merit further action by the Committee. The Committee is 
guided in part by its recent decision in In the Matter of 
Allegations Relating to Representative Mark Meadows.\219\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \219\Comm. on Ethics, In the Matter of Allegations Related to 
Representative Mark Meadows, H. Rept. 115-1042, 115th Cong., 2d Sess.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In that case, Representative Meadows was similarly faced 
with allegations that his Chief of Staff had sexually harassed 
members of his staff, and conducted an investigation into those 
allegations. Representative Meadows, however, did not follow 
the investigator's recommendation to fire his Chief of Staff, 
but instead kept him on the payroll for another nine months, 
with supervisory responsibilities over the complainants for 
several of those months. In addition, after Representative 
Meadows informed the Chief of Staff of the allegations, the 
Chief of Staff requested that he be granted access to review 
the emails of other staff--access which he did not previously 
have. Representative Meadows granted that request. 
Representative Meadows also paid his Chief of Staff 
``severance'' upon his termination, but rather than doing so as 
a lump sum payment negotiated by counsel in exchange for 
something of value to the office, Representative Meadows simply 
left his Chief of Staff on the payroll and did not seek 
guidance from any appropriate entities.
    In the instant case, while the Committee has explained 
above how Representative Esty could have improved the 
investigation, upon learning of the allegations, Representative 
Esty directed that a review of Mr. Baker's behavior be 
undertaken. While Mr. Baker's conduct was under review, 
Representative Esty mandated that he seek and receive 
counseling for both alcohol abuse and anger management, and 
confirmed that he was actually receiving such counseling.\220\ 
After receiving the results of the review, Representative Esty 
followed the recommendation she was given. Representative Esty 
also sought the advice of OHEC throughout the process, 
including after she made the decision to terminate Mr. Baker's 
employment. When she terminated him, she chose from options 
identified by OHEC and provided Mr. Baker with the least 
generous severance option presented to her. Mr. Baker was 
removed from her office within three months. After Mr. Baker's 
departure, Representative Esty took additional steps to change 
office policies and procedures to make her more available to 
all of her staff, and required her staff to participate in 
sexual harassment trainings to ensure that mistreatment in her 
office would not happen again. Despite her missteps, 
Representative Esty's response demonstrated that she took her 
obligation to protect her staff seriously.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \220\See supra n.104.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                             VI. CONCLUSION

    The Committee takes allegations of sexual harassment and 
discrimination extremely seriously. Mr. Baker's behavior toward 
Former Staffer A has no place in the House of Representatives. 
The House of Representatives should be a workplace free of 
physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, and it is the 
responsibility of Members to ensure that each of their offices 
remains so.
    When she learned that Mr. Baker may have mistreated Former 
Staffer A, Representative Esty could have acted more promptly 
and enlisted more appropriate resources to investigate. Falling 
short of ideal practices, however, is not the same as violating 
House Rules. Furthermore, the Committee has not previously 
provided guidance on what those ideal practices are; in the 
absence of that guidance, Representative Esty sought legal 
advice from private counsel and OHEC and reasonably relied on 
that advice. Based on the totality of the circumstances, 
therefore, the Committee found that Representative Esty's 
actions warrant no further action.
    The House has made and is still considering several changes 
to its rules and processes relating to workplace discrimination 
or abuse. The House should be a leader in this area and strive 
to set an example of ideal practices. The Committee therefore 
takes this opportunity to provide general guidance on the ideal 
response when Members learn of allegations of inappropriate or 
discriminatory behavior by a House employee. The best practices 
in each instance will necessarily be dependent on the specific 
facts at issue. Generally speaking, the Member should take 
swift action to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and 
prevent further potential harm. If the Member is unable to 
immediately determine the veracity of the allegations, the best 
course of action would be for the Member to limit the 
employee's interaction with and supervision of other staff 
while conducting an impartial investigation into those 
allegations using a neutral third party, ideally a trained 
independent investigator (who must be properly compensated for 
such services). If a Member determines their employee engaged 
in inappropriate behavior, appropriate disciplinary action 
should be taken. And if that employee's behavior put the safety 
or well-being of those in the office at risk, the best practice 
would be for the Member to remove that employee from the office 
either permanently or until they can be assured the employee no 
longer poses a risk to staff. The Committee believes that no 
severance payments should be made to employees who are 
discharged due to their own unethical conduct.
    The Committee hopes this Report will not only serve as a 
guide to Members in how to respond to allegations of harassment 
or discrimination in their offices, but also serve as a 
reminder to the whole House community of the resources that are 
available to Members and staff, including the Office of 
Compliance, the Office of Employee Assistance, the newly 
created Office of Employee Advocacy, and the Committee itself. 
The Committee also recognizes the challenges and pressures that 
prevent many victims from reporting their abuse and commends 
the bravery of those who do so, including the individual 
identified in this Report as Former Staffer A.
    Upon publication of this Report, the Committee considers 
the matter closed.

           VII. STATEMENT UNDER HOUSE RULE XIII, CLAUSE 3(c)

    The Committee made no special oversight findings in this 
Report. No budget statement is submitted. No funding is 
authorized by any measure in this Report.


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