Mel Watt accuser testifies before House committee

by Ryan Smith27 Sep 2018

A Federal Housing Finance Agency employee who has accused FHFA Director Mel Watt of sexual harassment testified about her allegations Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee, according to a report by The Hill.

Simone Grimes, a special advisor at the agency, has accused Watt of making dozens of sexual advances toward her and withholding a pay raise because of her refusal. In a lawsuit, Grimes has also accused FHFA Inspector General Laura Wertheimer for taking retaliatory actions against her for reporting the alleged harassment.

“Not only are you hurt by what has happened, but you quickly learn that all of the agency mechanisms that you hope have a sympathetic ear are not only slightly hostile, but make it clear that they’re not there to support you, but defend their client no matter what their client has done,” Grimes told lawmakers Thursday.

Grimes said that Watt regularly sexually harassed her starting in 2015. She recorded audio from conversations in which Watt made inappropriate remarks and has shared those tapes with the press, according to The Hill. She also said that Watt denied her a promised pay raise after a promotion because she refused his sexual advances.

“There was a clear correlation between the two,” she told the committee.

Committee members from both parties praised Grimes for coming forward, The Hill reported.

“She deserves to be heard and she needs to be heard,” said Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Watt, a former Democratic congressman and Obama appointee, has denied the allegations and has claimed that they are politically motivated. He has refused to cooperate with internal investigations into the claims.