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Rep. John Conyers is retiring after sexual harassment allegations

by Carter Sherman
Dec 5 2017, 10:52am

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Tuesday that he will retire, following numerous allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children,” Conyers, the longtime ranking Democrat from Michigan on the House Judiciary Committee, told a Detroit radio show. “I’m retiring today.”

Both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, have called for Conyers, 88, to resign in the wake of the revelation that he settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former staffer.

The staffer said she put up with sexual harassment for years and was ultimately fired because she didn’t “succumb to [his] sexual advances,” BuzzFeed News reported. At the time, three other staff members corroborated Conyers’ pattern of sexual harassment, and a second aide also later accused Conyers of sexual harassment.

While Conyers confirmed that the settlement existed, he denied any wrongdoing. The House Ethics Committee is now investigating the allegations.

Conyers, who was hospitalized last week for a stress condition, reportedly spoke to the radio show from his hospital bed. He also took the opportunity on Tuesday to endorse his son, who’s running for his House seat.

All of the complaints against Conyers remained hidden for years under Congress’ secret reporting process. In mid-November, however, a group of bipartisan lawmakers, lead by New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, introduced a bill to make the process more transparent.

Several other members of Congress are also dealing with sex scandals. Five women have now said Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched them, and it was revealed last week that Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold spent $84,000 in taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim with a former staffer.

Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, also said this week that he won’t seek re-election after a naked photo of him surfaced online, alongside sexually explicit messages he sent to a tea party activist.