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Second Dem lawmaker calls on Conyers to resign

Second Dem lawmaker calls on Conyers to resign
© The Hill

A second House Democrat on Tuesday called for Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Chicago suburb could serve as road map for reparations MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) to resign as lawmakers returned to Washington for the first time since allegations of sexual harassment against him surfaced.

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWhite House raises refugee cap to 62,500 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' Democrats push to add drug pricing, Medicare measures to Biden plan MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement that Democrats should not condemn President Trump and Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore for allegedly engaging in sexual harassment and “then turn a blind eye to our own who face credible charges against them.”

Jayapal noted that she has “looked up” to Conyers, the longest-serving current House member and co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, for decades. Yet Jayapal said she believes the women who have alleged Conyers sexually harassed them while they worked as his staffers.

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“The actions and subsequent deflections from the growing tide of sexual harassment cases in Congress not only hurt individual women, but they undermine our institution of democracy,” Jayapal said.

“It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion — Mr. Conyers must resign,” she said.

Conyers, 88, announced Sunday that he would step aside as the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee amid an ethics investigation into the sexual harassment allegations.

Jayapal is the first member of the Judiciary Committee to publicly urge Conyers to resign.

Another female Democrat, Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceHouse GOP campaign arm adds to target list Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan NY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap MORE (N.Y.), is the only other lawmaker to call on Conyers to resign from Congress so far.

“Rep. John Conyers should resign. I’ve reviewed the allegations against him, and they’re as credible as they are repulsive,” Rice said in a statement last week.

BuzzFeed reported last week 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.

The former staffer was paid a settlement totaling more than $27,000.

Settlements made through the Office of Compliance harassment reporting process are typically paid out from a special fund operated by the Treasury Department.

The Office of Compliance released data earlier this month showing that more than $17 million in settlements have been made in the past two decades, which include cases beyond sexual harassment like racial or religious discrimination.

But the settlement in the Conyers case was paid by his congressional office in three installments. The former staffer was listed as a “temporary employee,” even though she did not do any actual work during the period the settlement payments were made.

Conyers has denied any wrongdoing and said he settled the matter to avoid litigation.

The Detroit News also reported Tuesday that another former female staffer alleged that Conyers made unwanted sexual advances toward her when she worked for him two decades ago.