Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) became the first Democrat in Congress to call on Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to resign from Congress in light of recent sexual harassment allegations.
“I’ve reviewed the allegations against him, and they’re as credible as they are repulsive,” Rice said in a statement Wednesday. “Whether it happened 40 years ago or last week, settlement or no settlement, Democrat or Republican — harassment is harassment, assault is assault. We all know credible allegations when we hear them, and the same is true of hypocrisy.”
Conyers, 88, in 2015 settled a wrongful dismissal complaint with a female staffer who claimed he fired her for rejecting his sexual advances, BuzzFeed News reported Monday night. The report also contained sworn testimony from three other former Conyers staffers detailing similar accusations.
The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the allegations on Tuesday.
Melanie Sloan, a high-profile ethics lawyer, also came forward Wednesday, telling The Washington Post that Conyers harassed and abused her when she worked on Capitol Hill in the 1990s. In one particularly egregious incident, she said he once summoned her to his office, where she found him in his underwear. Conyers lawyer denied the congressman had done anything “inappropriate.”
Though Rice is the first House Democrat to call on Conyers to resign, others in Congress have spoken out against the allegations. Louisiana Rep. and Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond (D) called the allegations “very serious and disturbing.” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) called upon Conyers to step down from his position on the House Judiciary Committee.
“No one is exempt from bad behavior, and I think that he’s agreed and I clearly see where Leader [Nancy] Pelosi has said there will be an immediate ethics committee, a review,” he told CNN on Wednesday.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) told CNN that, “if I was in his place, I would leave,” but stopped short of demanding Conyers do the same.