U.S. Congressman John Conyers is the latest Capitol Hill lawmaker who stands accused of sexual misconduct. Conyers, 88, a Democrat who represents a Detroit-area district, is currently the longest-serving House member.
[This story has been updated.]
The alleged scandal was uncovered by filmmaker and author Mike Cernovich, who gave the scoop to BuzzFeed, which reports that it independently verified the documents obtained from Cernovich about Rep. Conyers.
“Michigan Rep. John Conyers… settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not ‘succumb to [his] sexual advances.’ Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits…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 sexual favors, 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.”
Conyers allegedly used taxpayer money to pay for the travel costs of some of the women alluded to above.
In a Medium essay, Cernovich explains that he gave the big story to BuzzFeed because the mainstream media would try to squelch the scandal by making it about him (Cernovich) rather than Conyers and dismissing him as a fake news conspiracy theorist. Cernovich is also demanding that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan release details behind the previously secret taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements paid out by Congress, which runs to about $17 million.
In March, Conyers colleague and Trump foe Maxine Waters told Women’s March organizers that Conyers “has impeccable integrity” on women’s issues, the Washington Examiner reported.
Last week, U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who was previously best known as “Stuart Smalley” from Saturday Night Live, was accused of making improper advances to model/media personality Leeann Tweeden. Franken apologized to Tweeden, but there are calls across the ideological divide for him to step down. Alabama Republican Judge Roy Moore is also dealing with accusations, which he denies, of sexual misconduct from 40 years ago as he seeks election to the U.S. Senate on December 12. Earlier today, CBS/PBS anchor Charlie Rose found his name added to the long list of those in the media/entertainment industry accused of improper behavior with women. Both networks suspended him. New York Times political reporter Glenn Thrush was also hit with a suspension yesterday for what the Times itself described as “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
Conyers’ office has yet to issue a statement about the alleged revelations, although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed that she had no knowledge of the purported Conyers settlement because of nondisclosure agreements, USA Today reported.
Mike Cernovich is also offering to reimburse attorney fees incurred by victims who come forward to tell their story about congressional misconduct.and secret settlements. Congress allegedly entered into 264 such confidential settlements.
On Tuesday, Speaker Ryan described the John Conyers allegations as “extremely troubling.” Ryan also says that the House in the process of reviewing and considering reforms to its workplace harassment polices and that anti-sexual harassment training is now mandatory for everyone in the U.S. House, BuzzFeed reported.
As the alleged John Conyers sexual harassment scandal is a developing story, be sure to check back for updates.
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]