House

Ethics lawyer: Conyers summoned me to his office while wearing underwear

Greg Nash

A high-profile ethics lawyer based in Washington, D.C., says Rep. John Conyers Jr. summoned her to his office where the Michigan Democrat was in his underwear during her time as minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

Melanie Sloan, who formerly headed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and worked for Conyers from 1995 to 1998, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Conyers asked her to come to his Rayburn Building office at one point, where she found him in his underwear.

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“I was pretty taken aback to see my boss half-dressed,” she said. “I turned on my heel and I left.”

Sloan added that Conyers’ behavior toward her was inappropriate and abusive, but she told the Post that she didn’t believe she was sexually harassed by him.

“There was nothing I could do to stop it,” Sloan told the Post. “Not going to leadership, not going to my boss, not going to a women’s group, not going to a reporter. I was dismissed and told I must be mentally unstable.”

She was initially encouraged to keep quiet, Sloan says, because the culture of Washington dictates that staffers show “loyalty.”

“The reason I decided to go on the record is to make it easier for other people,” she said. “People are afraid to come forward. So much about working in Washington is about loyalty, and you are supposed to shut up about these things.”

Sloan is the first woman to come forward on the record about Conyers after a BuzzFeed investigation found that Conyers settled a claim with an unidentified former employee over allegations of sexual harassment in 2015.

Conyers’ attorney denied Sloan’s accusations in a statement to the Post. Conyers has “vehemently” denied the previous allegations uncovered by the BuzzFeed investigation.

“Representative Conyers has never done anything inappropriate to Melanie Sloan,” said Arnold Reed, Conyers’ legal counsel, saying the Democratic lawmaker would address complaints about his conduct after Thanksgiving.

Several senior House Democrats called for an ethics investigation into the allegations following the BuzzFeed report, while Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) on Wednesday became the first House Democrat to call on Conyers to resign in the wake of misconduct allegations.

Tags Congress House John Conyers John Conyers Kathleen Rice Melanie Sloan Sexual assault Sexual harassment
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