Arizona congressman paid out $50,000 after allegations he was drunk: report

Rep. Grijalva allegedly used tax payer money to pay off a confidential settlement with a former staffer who threatened to sue him for allegations of a hostile work environment and drunkenness.

Facing allegations of being drunk at work and creating a hostile work environment, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva reportedly paid a former staffer almost $50,000, according to a news report in The Washington Times.

The former staffer had threatened to sue the Tucson Democrat, but an attorney for the House of Representatives worked out a confidential settlement in 2015, according to the report. The staffer worked for Grijalva for just three months.

The cash came out of Grijalva's House Natural Resources Committee budget, funded by taxpayers.

The Grijalva case is apparently work-related. There are no allegations of sexual harassment. 

The eight-term congressman said in a C-SPAN interview last week that work-related settlements are common in Congress.

"Dealing with employee issues is difficult," he said during the C-SPAN interview. "Settlements occur in Congress all the time... Few members have not gone through that."

But while Grijalva said sexual harassment settlements with members of Congress should be made public, he hedged on releasing workplace payouts:

"Settlements that occur to the benefit of both the employee and obviously to the employer so that they can go on, those individuals can go on and continue to work in an environment that perhaps is more conducive to their capacities, that might be a different matter."

In a prepared statement Tuesday, Grijalva confirmed the deal with the employee:  

"The fact is that an employee and I, working with the House Employment Counsel, mutually agreed on terms for a severance package, including an agreement that neither of us would talk about it publicly. The terms were consistent with House Ethics Committee guidance. The severance funds came out of my committee operating budget. Every step of the process was handled ethically and appropriately."

A Grijalva spokesman told 12 News that the congressman "has asked to be released from the confidentiality agreement with the former employee. (Until then) he legally can't answer any questions" about the story.

The former employee would have to agree the document's release, the spokesman said.

Grijalva is also demanding an apology from the Washington Times, for linking him to sexual harassment complaints.

The story contains no allegations of sexual harassment against Grijalva.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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