“As credible as they are repulsive.”
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) is facing enormous backlash from his own party over damaging sexual harassment allegations.
The most notable offense accuses Conyers of using $27,000 of taxpayer money to settle a 2015 lawsuit for firing an employee who refused his sexual advances.
The allegations have sent shockwaves throughout D.C., especially because the 88-year-old Conyers is the longest member of Congress, with a career in the House that goes back to 1965.
Democrat leadership has quickly spoken of the need to look into the issue. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) both favor an Ethics Committee investigation of the allegations.
But Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) is going further, calling on Conyers to resign, CNN reports. In a statement, Rep. Rice called the allegations against Conyers:
“As credible as they are repulsive. The women who reported this behavior suffered serious professional repercussions for doing so, which is exactly why so many victims of sexual harassment and assault decide not to step forward. If men who engage in this behavior suffered real repercussions, more victims would speak up — and maybe other men would decide to act like decent, civilized adults and not prey on women who work for and trust and admire them.”
The New York Congresswoman emphasized that the length of time passed since the occurrence of alleged misconduct is irrelevant.
“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.”
Other members of Congress have called on Conyers to step down from his role of ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said “As agonizing as it might be for all of us, the ranking member needs to step down at the minimum. Our leader Pelosi asked for that ethics investigation and then the chips will fall from there.”
And Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) stated:
“No one is exempt from bad behavior, and I think that he’s agreed and I clearly see where Leader Pelosi has said there will be an immediate Ethics Committee, a review. I really think that probably the appropriate thing right now is that he should step down as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and be subject to this ethics investigation.”
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) who claims to have been groped by a “prominent historical person” in the ’80s, spoke out against Conyers, calling the allegations “deeply disturbing.”
It’s surprising to see Democrats turning against their own. But the current sexual abuse climate may leave them no change if they want to preserve their party’s image.