Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, is the latest politician facing allegations of sexual misconduct while in office — including using congressional resources to carry out his affairs.
BuzzFeed News reported on Monday that Conyers settled a wrongful termination complaint with a former staffer who alleged that she was fired because she wouldn’t “succumb to sexual advances” from the lawmaker.
Conyers rubbed the legs and hands of staffers in a sexual manner, one complaint states. He allegedly frequently requested his staff members pick up women and drive them to his apartment or hotel rooms. He even used congressional resources to fly women out to him for sexual liaisons, according to the report.
The Congressman also made advances toward female staffers, inviting them "to his room under the auspices of discussing business, but then [asking] for sexual favors in exchange for advancement [opportunities]," according to another complaint.
Conyers is the latest politician to be accused of sexual misconduct while in office. The endemic issue has revealed misconduct by lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle.
More than $17 million has been issued out by Congress for settlement complaints relating to sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. The settlement between Conyers and the woman who made the complaint, whose name was withheld in BuzzFeed’s report, totaled around $27,000 but came from Conyers’s own budget and not from Congress’s separate fund.
The process for reporting sexual harassment in Congress is long and arduous, and it requires extensive mediation between the parties involved.
The problem is so extensive in Congress that women working there, including female lawmakers, take extra steps and precautions to ensure they’re not in social situations with known abusers. An informal “creep list” is even exchanged among women on Capitol Hill which details the lawmakers, lobbyists, and other staffers to avoid.
More individuals in Congress are likely to be named in the weeks and even months ahead, as the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and abuse picks up — and rightly so. Those who have abused their positions of authority deserve to be called out, and the victims deserve justice.