They say people in a democracy get the representatives they deserve. But it’s hard to see what we’ve done to earn this gang of miscreants.

The Office of Compliance, part of Congress we didn’t know about, has paid $17 million of taxpayer dollars in more than 250 settlements to workers wronged in the past 20 years. Some of the money has gone to pay off staffers sexually harassed by members of Congress.

Thanks to leaked documents, we now know that Congress handles these cases with a secrecy that protects predators and leaves future victims clueless.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., denies a BuzzFeed report about allegations against him that were settled secretly. If the stories are true, and they are corroborated by many sources, this is a tale of a man who exploited his power and used government resources to harass women and carry on many affairs. These settlements were reportedly kept secret until they were leaked this week. Complainants are forced to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of the process.

The arrangement endangers women and allows lawmakers to continue their predations with no cost to their bank accounts or their reputations. It is a protection racket for sexual miscreants.

One male colleague reportedly tried to correct Conyers’ behavior early this decade, and Conyers agreed to change, as long as the man stayed quiet. After that Conyers supposedly kept harassing women and demanding sexual acts from them.

That informal agreement of silence from the male staffer is writ large in the Office of Compliance process.

Congress needs to fix this corrupt system. The Office of Compliance should bar nondisclosure agreements in settlements with members or top staffers, leaving it up to the victim whether to publicize the case. Second, paying settlements with taxpayer money is unacceptable. Members should pay out of their own pockets.

Here is a case where bipartisan cooperation should be possible, and public pressure should come from all ideological corners.