U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is the latest Democrat to be brought down by the wave of sexual misconduct allegations which have claimed many perpetrators in recent days.
Except, this time, there’s more than mere allegations.
The longtime House member was found out to have settled a serious dispute with one of his staffers in 2015. The staffer had accused Conyers of sexual harassment.
Details of his misconduct were reported by Buzzfeed, who claim to have obtained first and second-hand accounts of his actions.
Apparently, Conyers “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.”
Another Conyers aide reported to Buzzfeed that Conyers “used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with.”. One of his other aides claimed that she “was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.”
All of these misdeeds culminated in legal trouble that resulted in Conyers paying $27,000 to one of the staffers he abused. That money came out of the congressman’s staffing allowance, which is tax-payer money.
This was all done through the House Office of Compliance, the chamber’s version of a tax-payer funded HR department.
Conyers’s discrepancies are a major headache for Congressional Democrats, given his prestige among party members.
For starters, he’s the longest-serving member currently in the House of Representatives, having held his seat since the 1960’s. In addition, he is the Ranking Member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and a founding member of the influential Congressional Black Caucus.
He is 88 years old.
So far, no Democrats have called for him to resign. Actually, he’s recently been praised by California Democrat Maxine Waters as a champion for women.
The only thing Democrats have done is refer his case to the House Ethics Committee, where these issues go to die in obscurity. The committee is made up largely of Freshman
What is most troubling for House Leaders is the fact that their HR department has been authorizing these sorts of payments to staffers for an undetermined number of years. Both Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are dumbfounded, with no good answer for how the people’s chamber has been run all these years.
“This report is extremely troubling,” Ryan said of the matter. “Last month, I directed the Committee on House Administration to conduct a full review of all policies and procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination. A Committee hearing last week examining this issue led to a new policy of mandatory training for all members and staff. Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review.”
In other words, “I have no idea what’s going on, so I’m asking around.”
Conyers, who’s affectionately known as the “dean of the House”, said he would cooperate with an Ethics Committee probe. Probably because he knows nothing will come of it.