House Ethics panel announces probe of Conyers

The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday that it has begun an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersPortland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan MORE Jr. (D-Mich.).

A BuzzFeed News report on Monday evening revealed that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former staffer who alleged she was fired because she didn't succumb to his sexual advances.

Former staffers also alleged that Conyers made unwanted sexual advances toward his female aides, touched them inappropriately, used congressional resources to transport women with whom he was suspected of having affairs and complained that a female staffer was "too old" and he wanted to dismiss her.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in sexual harassment of members of its staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes,” Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksIndiana shooting ‘hero’ released from hospital Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House Farenthold says he won't repay K sexual harassment settlement MORE (R-Ind.) and ranking Democrat Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchSenate harassment bill runs into opposition from House House Dems want to hire Parkland students for the summer Farenthold says he won't repay K sexual harassment settlement MORE (Fla.) said in a joint statement.

Brooks and Deutch added that the Ethics Committee will refrain from making further public statements on the Conyers investigation pending completion of its initial review.

The committee's announcement comes after House Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDemocrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Madeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration MORE (Calif.), called for an ethics investigation into the allegations.

Conyers, 88, is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the longest-serving current House member.

He denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Tuesday and said that his office agreed on a settlement to avoid extended litigation for all the parties involved.

"My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation," Conyers said. "To the extent the House determines to look further at these issues, I will fully cooperate with an investigation."