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Published On: Thu, Nov 23rd, 2017

John Conyers faces ethics investigation after $27K settlement with staffer who ‘refused his sexual advances’

Lawmakers are calling for an ethics investigation into Michigan Congressman John Conyers after a report that he reached a settlement with a staffer who said she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances. Buzzfeed noted four affidavits from Conyers’ former staff members describing his sexual overtures toward female staffers, which included requesting certain acts in exchange for sex.

Buzzfeed reported the news of the settlement, which reportedly exceeded $27,000, on Monday.

John Conyers

“Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.”

The Ethics Committee announced Tuesday afternoon that it was conducting an investigation into the allegations.

Conyers, 88, has served in the House of Representatives for over 50 years and is the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. He told the Associated Press he did not know anything about the allegations.

“As Members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse. As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the Ethics Committee,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Pelosi also called for the passage of the Me Too Congress Act sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA, 14th District).

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, who is second to Conyers in seniority among Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, requested the Ethics committee immediately launch an investigation, and said the processes by which victims report harassment claims has to change. The woman who settled with Conyers highlighted the complexities of this process, telling the outlet she “was basically blackballed” into staying quiet and accepting a settlement.”

California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who follows Nadler and Conyers in seniority on the Judiciary Committee, echoed Nadler’s sentiments, calling the allegations “as serious as they get.” “The Committee on Ethics should take up this matter immediately with a goal of promptly assessing the validity of the news account. This reported behavior cannot be tolerated in the House of Representatives or anywhere else.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement as well, highlighting the mandatory sexual harassment training that was recently implemented, and saying more reforms were being considered.

People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination,” Ryan said.

Full BuzzFeed article HERE

Allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore from four decades ago has brought heightened awareness to the issue of sexual misconduct in the Congress.

About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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