(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) introduced legislation on Friday aimed to address the toxic, misogynistic climate of New Jersey politics – particularly within campaigns – documented through news reports and legislative hearings over the past several years.
The bill (A-5354) would require candidate committees, joint candidate committees, political party committees and continuing political committees to adopt and require training on anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies.
Additionally, the measure would create an Office on Discrimination and Harassment Prevention (ODHP) within the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. The office would be charged with receiving, reviewing and investigating complaints of discrimination or harassment made against any candidate, staff member, member of a political party committee or continuing action committee, individual engaged in political activities, or member of the press, government affairs agent or third party vendor engaging with candidates or staff.
The ODHP would be comprised of staff who have professional expertise in survivor support and trauma-informed interviewing.
Individuals would be required to report to a campaign if they have been the subject of an investigation and whether they were disciplined in any way as a result.
The bill would also establish an 11-member advisory panel to evaluate various aspects of the legislation and would be required to issue two reports.
Assemblywomen Pintor Marin and Vainieri Huttle released the following joint statement on the bill’s introduction:
“Too often, harassment emanates from power. It’s no secret that the world of politics can sometimes be a volatile intersection of power, control and toxicity.
“Many survivors of sexual violence, harassment or misconduct fear retaliation from their aggressors if they speak about their experiences publicly or privately. Operating in a climate where traditional human resource policies and protections are virtually nonexistent, they are left with little options for recourse.
“It’s not enough to say we cannot tolerate a culture where people – primarily women – feel unsafe or suppressed. We must take decisive action to reform the system that has allowed abusers to claim more power and prevented survivors from getting the justice they deserve.
“With this legislation, we take another critical step in fighting harassment and discrimination and standing up for survivors.”