My friends would caution me about writing anything related to the settlement reached in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case filed by former legislative aide Rachel Perrin Rogers against the Florida Senate.
My lawyers would also probably advise against it.
In fact, until the case was settled, a judge had ordered me and anyone else listed as a potential witness in the case not to say anything publicly about the matter.
But now, more than a year after sexual harassment allegations brought down the lawmaker who targeted Perrin Rogers … and after the President of the Florida Senate agreed to a $900,000 settlement with her, there’s only one conclusion left to reach.
There were no winners at the end of this case.
There was little resolution. And even less justice.
There are hardly any more protections today for those who work closely with powerful men then there were before Perrin Rogers stepped forward. An effort to pass legislation that would have forced government agencies to create policy to prevent and punish sexual harassment did not pass the Legislature.
Yet, as the Florida Senate gathers this week for committee meetings:
— There is a Senator who two midlevel lobbyists told me had sexually harassed them nonstop earlier in his career.
— There is another Senator who multiple well-connected Democrats told me had sexually harassed them at a variety of political functions.
— There is another Senator who has widely, but unsolicitedly, shared his bizarre sexual fetishes with many, many women and men.
That’s three out of 40. And that’s just what I know.
No wonder Perrin Rogers and her attorney had me on the potential witness list (although I would have gone to jail rather than give up the names of my sources).
Some will read the headline about Perrin Rogers receiving nearly a million dollars for what she went through and believe that she came out OK from this mess.
First of all — and I could be very wrong — Perrin Rogers will walk away with, what? $600K of that settlement after legal fees. That’s a lot of money and it may give her the freedom to spend more of her time with her son.
But she already made decent money working for the ever loyal Wilton Simpson, who said that the Senate should have settled the case sooner, rather than drag it out over a year. And I know very few serious players in The Process who would take $600K to walk away from a career stint that included two years as a senior adviser to the Majority Leader and two years advising the Senate President. Entire lobbying firms have been built on less impressive resumes.
Just over a year ago, I attempted to shed some light on the dark actions coursing through the Florida Senate. I wrote that the Harvey Weinsteins of Florida politics were hiding in plain sight.
Yes, a couple of them are no longer there. Bravo to Perrin Rogers and the reporters at POLITICO for taking them down.
But even after everything that was written, many of the Weinsteins are still there. Everyone knows it. But the women who could destroy these men’s careers witnessed what happened to Perrin Rogers — which is what the EEOC case was all about — and decided against coming forward.
Who can blame them?
So here we all are today and very little has changed.