A new committee featuring 11 of the state’s most prominent women in politics, from both the public and private sector, wants other women to come forward with their own experiences of sexual assault, harassment and misogyny during their time in New Jersey politics.
Thursday’s announcement, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District, comes a month after an NJ Advance Media report that interviewed 20 women who anonymously shared harrowing tales of sexual harassment, including at the annual New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Walk to Washington event, and the after-parties at the yearly New Jersey League of Municipalities November conference in Atlantic City.
Weinberg unveiled the group soon after the report came out in an effort to put an end to the “toxic” culture of misogyny facing women in the state’s political landscape. Women will be able to fill out anonymous surveys, and the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics will hold public forums and private meetings to hear from women.
“Women need to know that they can come forward and share their experiences safely, privately and without fear of intimidation or retribution from those responsible for their harassment or assault, those with an interest in protecting the political careers or interests of those responsible, or those who encouraged or allowed a toxic political climate to develop,” Weinberg said.
In addition to Weinberg, the workgroup includes Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Senate Majority General Counsel Alison Accettola, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey Director of Public Health Elizabeth Coulter, Princeton Public Affairs Group Partner Sonia Delgado, Kaufman Zita Group Senior Vice President Jeannine LaRue, Capital Impact Group Vice President of Public Affairs Sabeen Masih, Bergen County Improvement Authority Commissioner Lisa Randall, founder of Lift Our Voices Julie Roginsky, New Jersey Senate Minority Office Executive Director Christine Shipley, and New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Patricia Teffenhart.
Roginsky, a former political consultant for Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign, abruptly left in 2017 as a result of what she called “the most toxic workplace environment” she had seen in 25 years, according to a recent interview with her from The Start-Ledger editorial page.
The New Jersey Chamber, following the publication of the initial NJ Advance Media report, unveiled reforms to clamp down on sexual harassment at its annual event.