Rep. Conyers resigns amid allegations of sexual misconduct
Free Press wire reports | 12/8/2017, 5:37 a.m.
Free Press wire report
Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress on Tuesday after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job in the torrent of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces.
The 88-year-old civil rights leader and longest-serving member of the House announced what he referred to as his “retirement” on Detroit talk radio, while continuing to deny he groped or sexually harassed women who worked for him.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said the congressman, who called into the radio show from the hospital where he was taken last week after complaining of lightheadedness. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”
He endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to succeed him.
Rep. Conyers, who was first elected in 1964 and went on to become a founding member in 1971 of the Congressional Black Caucus, easily won re-election last year to his 27th term in his heavily Democratic district in and around Detroit.
But after being publicly accused by one woman after another in recent weeks, he faced growing calls to resign from colleagues in the House, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
As the furor grew, he stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and the Ethics Committee began investigating him.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said he was saddened by the resignation of his “friend and mentor” but added: “There can be no tolerance for behavior that subjects women to the kind of conduct that has been alleged.”
It will be up to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to set a date for a special election to pick someone to serve out the remaining year in Rep. Conyers’ two-year term. State Sen. Ian Conyers, a grandson of Rep. Conyers’ brother, said he plans to run for the seat.
On Monday, yet another allegation was lodged against Rep. Conyers when a woman who said she worked for him for more than a decade, Elisa Grubbs, said he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while she was sitting next to him in the front row of a church.
Ms. Grubbs also said she repeatedly saw Rep. Conyers touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of other female staffers. Such behavior “was a regular part of life while working in the office of Rep. Conyers,” she said.
Ms. Grubbs is the cousin of another accuser, Marion Brown, who reached a confidential, taxpayer-funded settlement of more than $27,000 over allegations Rep. Conyers sexually harassed her. That settlement came to light in mid-November, setting off the cascade of allegations against the congressman.
At least two other women who worked for him have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas and Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada have all rebuffed calls to step down over similar accusations, though Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has said he won’t seek re-election next year.
Rep. Conyers said in a statement read Tuesday on the floor of the House that he was resigning “to preserve my legacy and good name.”
He also complained that he was not being afforded due process to defend himself, and cited his health problems as another factor in his decision. He added that he hopes his retirement will be viewed in the “larger perspective” of his more than 50 years as a lawmaker.
He co-sponsored a 1972 resolution recommending President Nixon’s impeachment for his conduct of the Vietnam War and regularly introduced a bill from 1989 onward to study the harm caused by slavery and the possibility of reparations to the descendants of slaves.
After a 15-year struggle, Rep. Conyers succeeded in establishing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a federal holiday in 1986. He employed civil rights legend Rosa Parks at his Detroit district office for more than two decades.