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Former Conyers staffer: Ethics Committee a 'black hole where allegations go to die'

Former Conyers staffer: Ethics Committee a 'black hole where allegations go to die'
© The Hill

Melanie Sloan, a Washington-based ethics lawyer who has accused Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersSchatz's ignorance of our Anglo-American legal heritage illustrates problem with government Dem consultant resigns in face of sexual misconduct allegation Tillerson announces mandatory sexual harassment training for State Dept. MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) of sexual misconduct, described on Monday the House Ethics Committee as a place where investigations often "go to die."

"The House Ethics Committee has never been known for taking a tough stance for unethical conduct by any member of Congress," Sloan said on Fox News's "Outnumbered Overtime."

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"It’s often just a black hole where allegations go to die, we never hear about them again," she continued.

Sloan, who formerly headed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and worked for Conyers from 1995 to 1998, said she is happy there is going to be an investigation into Conyers but isn't "overly optimistic" that he will face consequences should he be found guilty of misconduct.   

"That way other members of Congress can say, 'well it’s before the House Ethics Committee, so I can’t talk about it. We’ll wait for their review,' and they sort of never come up with a review, so I am a little concerned about that," she told Fox News.

While Sloan would not say whether Conyers should resign from his House seat because of the allegations, she said there must be "repercussions" for lawmakers who mistreat staff.

"I think it is good we’re talking about legislation that will have mandatory harassment training. Training is really not sufficient. I mean there has to be repercussions for these members of Congress,” she said.

Sloan's TV appearance comes after Conyers announced Sunday he will be stepping down from his top role on the House Judiciary Committee. 

The attorney accuses Conyers of becoming "increasingly abusive" toward her while she worked on crime policy on the panel from which he just stepped down. She also said he at one point appeared in his underwear after summoning her to his office. 

Sloan described her multiple attempts to "speak out at the time." She said she at one point spoke to a reporter who was then told by another Conyers staff member that Sloan was "mentally unstable" when the journalist sought to corroborate Sloan's story.

Sloan publicly came forward with her accusations last week after BuzzFeed News reported that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint with an unidentified former employee in 2015 over allegations of sexual harassment.

Conyers's attorney denied Sloan's accusations of wrongdoing in a statement to The Washington Post. The Democratic lawmaker has also "vehemently" denied the allegations mentioned in the BuzzFeed report.