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Thread: Rep. John Conyers announces he will 'retire today' from congressional seat

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Rep. John Conyers announces he will 'retire today' from congressional seat

    Rep. John Conyers announces he will 'retire today' from congressional seat

    Kathleen Gray and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press
    Published 10:31 a.m. ET Dec. 5, 2017 | Updated 11:34 a.m. ET Dec. 5, 2017


    Plagued by sexual misconduct allegations, longtime Rep. John Conyers announces his retirement and endorses his son to replace him in Congress. (Dec. 5) AP


    (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)


    WASHINGTON — Facing a rising chorus of voices demanding he step down because of sexual harassment claims, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., on Tuesday retired from the seat he has held for more than five decades, a swift and crushing fall from grace for a civil rights icon and the longest-serving active member of Congress.

    Saying he was finalizing his plans for retirement, Conyers, D-Mich., added he would endorse his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress. He did not describe it as a resignation but said his decision was immediate, suggesting the difference may be little.


    "My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This too shall pass. … My legacy will continue through my children," Conyers told Mildred Gaddis on her Detroit radio show.


    As for the accusations against him, Conyers said, "They're not accurate, they're not true and they're something I can't explain where they came from."


    More: Rep. John Conyers won't seek re-election: report


    Conyers, 88, made his decision to quit Congress two weeks after an article on BuzzFeed.com detailed a secret settlement of more than $27,000 with a former staffer who accused him of making sexual advances toward her and paying her out of funds from his taxpayer-supported office.


    By Thanksgiving, several other women had come forward with accusations against Conyers, who, despite his denials that he harassed anyone, saw House leaders and members of his own party abandon him, with three of the four Democrats in the Michigan delegation call for him to resign last Thursday.
    In addition to Marion Brown, the staffer who received the settlement, at least six other women claimed they either experienced or saw him touching and rubbing women in his office, making sexual advances toward them or making inappropriate remarks. The most recent, Elisa Grubbs, made accusations against Conyers on Monday night, saying in a statement that Conyers put his hand up her skirt at a church, among other allegations.


    Among the others, one filed a lawsuit against him early this year and then withdrew it, saying she didn't want to hurt Conyers' reputation. Another woman, Washington lawyer Melanie Sloan, also told the Detroit Free Press last month that Conyers had verbally mistreated her, forced her to babysit his children and, on one occasion, showed up at a meeting with her at his office in his underwear — though she didn't consider it sexual harassment.
    As late as Tuesday morning, there were reports that Conyers would fight on, choosing to remain in office until the end of his current term and then retire in early 2019. But speaking on Gaddis' show on WPZR-FM in Detroit, Conyers said he was retiring.
    More: Congress Ethics chairs request more data to determine extent of sex harassment payouts
    From accusation to resignation, Conyers' colleagues in Congress went from being warily supportive, urging caution while an investigation by the House Ethics Committee was completed to issuing outright calls for his resignation, even from at least one fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which he helped to create in 1971.
    U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who is the third-ranking Democrat in the House and has been a colleague of Conyers' on the Congressional Black Caucus since 1993, called for him to resign Thursday shortly after similar calls by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
    Conyers' lawyer, Arnold Reed had reiterated on several occasions that the congressman was not ready to resign and wanted to see the Ethics investigation —which he said he would cooperate with —- completed.
    More than 200 supporters, including some of Detroit's most influential political, religious and civil rights leaders, gathered in Detroit on Monday to reiterate that message saying that Conyers should get the same due process rights as any other member of Congress and President Trump who also are currently accused of sexual harassment.
    More: Rep. John Conyers accuser: Congressman wanted me as 'his side piece'
    But less than week after the claims first surfaced, with allegations swirling not only over the harassment claims but his use of taxpayer funds to pay at least one settlement, he abruptly stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, a position he had held for more than two decades.
    With media reports that some members of the caucus were privately urging him to resign — he suddenly quit Washington, missing several votes last week, including one mandating sexual harassment training for members, as he headed back to Detroit and his family.
    On Wednesday night he was hospitalized, his lawyer saying he believed it was stress-related. Then came the louder calls for him to resign, which finally culminated with the accusations —- many of them graphic and involving him groping or asking staffers for sex — ending Conyers' storied career.
    More: OnPolitics Today: Conyers won't take go for an answer
    It was a remarkable 53-year-run during which Conyers, the son of a well-known labor lawyer in Detroit, compiled a near-record legacy of civil rights activism, longevity and advocacy for the poor and underprivileged.
    He retires with the sixth-longest tenure in congressional history.
    Denying the sexual harassment allegations

    Conyers continued to refute the allegations against him, admitting the settlement with Brown, but denying her claims of sexual harassment. He also denied the claims the other former staffers made against him and enjoyed the support of a dozen former employees who signed a letter to defend their boss.
    During his time in office, which he won with huge margins every two years like clockwork, Conyers was considered one of the most liberal members of Congress, with a 100% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign.
    More: Nancy Pelosi calls for Rep. John Conyers' resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations
    The conservative Freedom Works gave him a 15% rating, while the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity give him ratings of 8% and 6%, respectively.
    Conyers, however, had already come under scrutiny twice from the House Ethics Committee in Congress for possible transgressions in his office.


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    As recently as this summer, the committee confirmed it was continuing to look at whether he had wrongly paid his former chief of staff more than $50,000 for time she didn't work. Conyers said he was only paying her for accrued leave time and severance as part of a separation agreement reached after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property unrelated to her job.
    In 2003, the Detroit Free Press reported on complaints from six unnamed Conyers aides who said they were forced to work on various campaigns, including a failed legislative campaign for Conyers' wife, Monica, on government time. A follow-up Ethics Committee report, however, focused on allegations that the congressman used staff to babysit his sons, help his wife with her law studies and chauffeur him to private events.
    More: Woman accuses Rep. John Conyers of 'violating my body'
    Conyers' office denied the accusations and eventually reached a deal to ensure staff knew where their responsibilities began and ended.
    In 2014, Conyers nearly didn’t get the chance to run for re-election because of irregularities in the petitions he filed to run for office. Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said he had used ineligible people to gather signatures, but a federal court disagreed and the state Legislature passed a law that people who collected signatures didn’t need to be registered voters.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...ent/922417001/

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