A former finance director for Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s 2016 congressional campaign said the Nevada Democrat made sexual advances toward her and touched her inappropriately, causing her to ultimately quit her job.
The woman, identified as Samantha, told BuzzFeed News she started working for Kihuen in December 2015, but quit in April 2016 due to the then-candidate’s inappropriate behavior.
Samantha, then 25, said Kihuen asked her out on dates, propositioned her for sex, and touched her inappropriately on multiple occasions beginning in February 2016.
Kihuen apologized for his behavior in a statement Friday.
“The staff member in question was a valued member of my team,” he said in a statement to the publication. “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. I was raised in a strong family that taught me to treat women with the utmost dignity and respect. I have spent my fifteen years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so.”
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement in response to the allegations that Kihuen should step down.
“Members and candidates must be held to the highest standard,” he said. “If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should not hold elected office. Congressman Kihuen should resign.”
Samantha was quoted as saying she went with Kihuen to a fundraiser on Feb. 6, 2016, and the Democrat walked her to her car after the event ended.
“He followed me to my car and said, ‘You look really good, I’d like to take you out if you didn’t work for me,’” Samantha said of the interaction.
She told Kihuen she had a boyfriend and left the fundraiser, but Kihuen’s propositions continued.
On Feb. 19, 2016, Samantha attended a meeting with Kihuen and Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., at the Aria Hotel. On their way to the meeting, Kihuen told Samantha, “We should get a hotel room here,” she recalled.
Samantha said she told him no.
When the Nevada Democrat and Samantha were driving back from the meeting to the campaign office, Samantha said Kihuen, who was behind the wheel, began touching her thigh.
On a different occasion, in March, Samantha said Kihuen grabbed the back of her leg while she looked at a computer screen.
Samantha raised concerns about Kihuen’s behavior with a staffer at the DCCC and told the contact there why she had decided to quit the campaign, according to BuzzFeed.
The staffer reportedly confirmed that the conversation occurred and said he spoke with another colleague about the allegations.
The other DCCC staffer notified Dave Chase, Kihuen’s campaign manager, of Samantha’s call to the congressional committee after she quit.
Chase spoke with Kihuen about the allegations of sexual misconduct, but the Nevada Democrat denied any wrongdoing.
Kihuen is the latest member of Congress to be accused of sexual misconduct.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is facing calls to resign from party leaders after multiple women said he sexually harassed and mistreated them.
Six women also accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of touching them inappropriately or forcibly kissing them both before and during his time in the Senate.
On Friday, it was revealed Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, agreed to an $84,000 settlement with his former communications director, who filed a lawsuit against him in 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment.
Both Conyers and Franken are under investigation by the Ethics Committees in their respective chambers for the allegations.