All’s well that ends well — or maybe it’s a case of much ado about nothing — in an odd dispute that roiled Capitol Hill this week: “Tampongate.”
It started when Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney (N.Y.), a candidate for New York attorney general, claimed that the Committee on House Administration has a “discriminatory policy” that bars members’ offices from buying tampons for use by female staff and visitors. The committee, led by Republicans, manages the daily operations of the House, including overseeing administrative functions.
Here’s his story.
“Earlier this [week], my office got an email saying that we couldn’t use our funds to buy tampons. . . . When we called out the committee that makes the rules, they denied the rule exists in the first place,” Maloney tweeted Thursday night.
The message went a tiny bit viral — Maloney’s first video had 11,200 views as of Friday afternoon.
His claims raised an interesting question: At a time when the treatment of women in the workplace is under a microscope, was a Republican-led committee really denying an office’s ability to buy feminine products for staff and visitors?
The answer is no, according to that committee.
“It is absolutely permissible to purchase necessary health and safety products to have in the office, especially in case of an emergency,” Committee on House Administration spokeswoman Erin McCracken said Friday in a statement to The Washington Post.
McCracken also said Maloney didn’t reach out for clarification on the committee’s policy before taking his case to Twitter.
According to Maloney, the expense was specifically rejected by the Office of Finance, which told him the tampons were “not an office supply but a personal care item.” The CHA helps set policy for the Chief Administrative Officer of the House, which oversees the Office of Finance.
The congressman, who is running for attorney general against three female candidates to replace a female incumbent, has quickly made the issue a priority.
Everything appeared resolved on Friday afternoon.
“Glad to see CHA has clarified their policy and reversed the decision made under their direction,” Maloney spokesman Ian Lee said in a statement. “This is an important opportunity for CHA to make clear to their employees — and to other members — that congressional offices welcome women and men, and both should have access to the hygienic products they need.”
As for Maloney’s tweets, they’re still making their way around the Internet as he continues his campaign.
“My office recently got smacked down by the powers that be in the House because we had the temerity to offer feminine hygiene products to the women who work for me,” Maloney said in a video posted Thursday night.
“By the way, a majority of my staff is female,” he said.