For years, women who work at Washington state’s Capitol have quietly spoken among themselves about their experiences with sexual harassment. Veteran lobbyists and staff members warn women who are new to the job to be careful around certain male lawmakers. There is even a list in circulation. Despite the whispers and the rumors, women have been reluctant to come forward to tell their stories publicly.
But when the Harvey Weinstein story broke and the #MeToo movement launched, things changed. Women began to speak more openly about a culture where men in power acted at times inappropriately, at times unprofessionally, and at times illegally towards female staff, lobbyists and others who work in and around the Legislature.
On October 31, 2017, reporters Austin Jenkins and Walker Orenstein broke open the veil of secrecy around sexual harassment in Olympia (http://nwnewsnetwork.org/post/women-washington-state-capitol-say-me-too). Other news outlets followed, and the result was a series of reforms promised by legislative leaders aimed at changing behavior at the Capitol and also providing a safer space for women to report harassment.