Pelosi calls for second House Dem to step down amid harassment claims
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called for Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) to resign late Friday amid sexual harassment allegations.
Kihuen is the second House Democrat that Pelosi has called on to step down in as many days following such allegations, after Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.).
“Across the nation, in every industry, brave women are coming forward to share stories of harassment that must be heard,” Pelosi said in a statement after speaking with Kihuen on Friday night.
“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign. The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward,” she continued.
“In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign.”
A representative for Kihuen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A woman who previously worked as the finance director for Kihuen alleged that she was harassed by the Nevada Democrat while working on his 2016 campaign, BuzzFeed reported earlier Friday.
The woman in BuzzFeed’s story, identified only as Samantha, accused the freshman congressman of repeatedly asking her on dates and for sex, despite her rejecting the advances. She also said he touched her thighs twice without her consent.
The chairman of House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), asked the congressman to step down.
“The staff member in question was a valued member of my team,” Kihuen said in a statement earlier Friday. “I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable.”
“I take this matter seriously as it is not indicative of who I am, but I want to make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances she described. I was raised in a strong family that taught me to treat women with the utmost dignity and respect. I have spent my 15 years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so.”
Pelosi, who has faced criticism for being too lenient on sexual harassment, called for Conyers to resign on Thursday as allegations of sexual misconduct mounted against him.
The minority leader came under fire earlier this week after an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday where she defended Conyers as an “icon” with a long history championing legislation “to protect women.”
On Tuesday she met with Melanie Sloan, an ethics lawyer who accused Conyers of harassment, announcing afterward that she found her story to be credible.
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have also been working quietly with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in an effort to convince Conyers to resign. He has so far resisted those calls.
An attorney for Conyers said Friday that the embattled congressman would make a decision in the coming days on whether to resign amid the harassment allegations.
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