Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan has announced he will be stepping down from the House Judiciary Committee as he is under investigation after it has been discovered that his former staffers accused him of sexual harassment and abuse.
He denies the claims and blames an alt-right blogger for creating a false narrative.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” said Conyers on Sunday afternoon. “I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”
The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond met with Conyers and released a statement, in part, “Today I met with John and we had a very candid conversation about the seriousness of the allegations against him, which he vehemently denies. I told him that I agreed with his decision to step down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee at this time. I also told him that I encourage and expect him to fully cooperate with the ethics investigation. He said he would…Any decision to resign from office before the ethics investigation is complete is John’s decision to make.”
Last week, Conyers’ lawyer said he would not be stepping down from his post, but evidently, the lawmaker has decided to do so.
BuzzFeed reported that in 2015, Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint where a former employee said that she was let go for denying his sexual advances. The former staff member was given a $27,000 settlement from Congress.
The Washington Post reported that the congressman’s former scheduler, Maria Reddick filed, but then later dropped a sexual harassment claim on Conyers last February.
The victim from the complaint filed in 2014 (that was settled in 2015) is being represented by civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom.
“(R)egardless of confidentiality agreements victims may speak if they are lawfully subpoenaed,” said Bloom. “I would be happy to accept service of a subpoena for my client’s testimony from the House Ethics Committee or any other appropriate body. She and I will fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter.”
In response to the claims, the House Ethics Committee has launched a formal investigation into the allegations.
The blogger in question, Mike Cernovich, gave BuzzFeed the documents and the publication said it also independently confirmed their authenticity.
“Not alt right but it’s always nice to get a shout out from a Congressman on his way out,” tweeted Cernovich.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has come forward in defense of Conyers.
“John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women — the Violence Against Women Act,” said Pelosi to NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. “He did great work on that.”
But, she did say she takes the accusations seriously.
“Any credible accusation must be reviewed by the Ethics Committee expeditiously. We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment,” said Pelosi.
Rep. Jerry Nadley (D-N.Y.) will now be taking the lead in the House Judiciary Committee in Conyers’ place.
“I will do everything in my power to continue to press on the important issues facing our committee, including criminal justice reform, workplace equality, and holding the Trump Administration accountable. Ranking Member Conyers has a 50 year legacy of advancing the cause of justice, and my job moving forward is to continue that critical work,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)
Author’s note: These allegations seem legitimate, especially since there was a secret settlement given. This looks like another example where a past sexual harassment case was covered up due to a person’s powerful position.