House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the House Committee on Ethics to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.
“As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday. “As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the Ethics Committee.”
Pelosi, D-Calif., joined a growing number of Democrats who are calling for an ethics probe into the allegations against Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress and the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Earlier Tuesday, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the most senior Democrats on the committee below Conyers, said an investigation is needed.
BuzzFeed reported Monday Conyers’ office settled a wrongful dismissal case with a former female staffer in 2015. The staffer said she was fired for rejecting Conyers’ sexual advances.
Four other former staffers who worked for Conyers said the congressman inappropriately touched female employees, made unwanted sexual advances toward other female staff, asked for sexual favors and asked his staff to bring women to Washington, D.C., who they believe Conyers was having affairs with.
Conyers admitted in a statement Tuesday he did settle a case against him “with an express denial of liability.” The congressman said the settlement was for “an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.”
He also said the existence of an allegation does not mean he is guilty of sexual misconduct, and said he deserves the presumption of innocence.