Following U.S. Senator Al Franken’s sexual assault allegations another Democrat from Nevada, who was elected just last year, is being accused of sexual assault.
A 25-year-old woman who has been identified only as Samantha, who worked as a finance director for Nevada Congressman Ruben Kihuen’s campaign in 2016, accuses Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen of trying to intimidate her with inappropriate comments and inappropriately touching her on several occasions.
On February 6, 2016, Samantha told Buzzfeed News she accompanied Kihuen to a fundraiser, something that was normal as part of her job. But when the event wrapped up Kihuen reportedly followed her up till the car and said, ''You look really good, I'd like to take you out if you didn't work for me,'' she recalled.
The woman also mentioned she ended the conversation quickly after telling the congressman she had a boyfriend, before getting in the car and leaving.
Later on Feb. 19, Samantha told Buzzfeed News she had gone with Kihuen to a meeting with Rep. Tony Cárdenas at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.
Cárdenas was in town to support presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of the Nevada caucuses. While the congressman and Samantha were in the elevator on way to their meeting, Samantha said Kihuen told her, “We should get a hotel room here.”
“I said ‘no’ very firmly and he just laughed at me. It was humiliating,” she told BuzzFeed News.
On another occasion, on their way back to the campaign office Kihuen was the one driving, and Samantha was in the passenger seat. She alleges Kihuen again asked if she’d ever cheated on her boyfriend, and started touching her thigh.
She told him to stop, said “no” and then began talking about her boyfriend.
Another such disturbing exchange between the two took place in March, when Kihuen asked for Samantha’s help with something on the computer during “call time.” Samantha alleged he grabbed the back of her thigh while she looked at the screen.
“I asked him what he was doing and he stopped.” Samantha reportedly left the campaign soon after.
She explained she didn’t know who to report the congressman’s inappropriate behavior in the campaign, so she ended up telling someone in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee of her ordeal before quitting.
“I didn't know what they could do, but I felt like I had to let someone know,” she said.
Kihuen’s campaign manager, Dave Chase was informed by a DCCC staffer about Samantha’s situation, but without any specific details. The staffer told Chase the young woman left because she was “uncomfortable.”
When the manager called Kihuen for an explanation he denied the allegations.
“The staff member in question was a valued member of my team. 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.”
After Buzzfeed News published Samanatha’s story, the congressman’s office sent out a new statement adding that he wanted to “make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances” described by Samantha.
Following these allegations the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has called for Kihuen’s resignation. In the light of all the facts brought forward in the story DCCC chairman Ben Ray Luján called on Kihuen to resign.
"Members and candidates must be held to the highest standard. If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should not hold elected office. Congressman Kihuen should resign,” he said.
Chase, the former campaign manager, said he was “deeply disappointed and heartbroken by Ruben's actions.”
“I believe Samantha and wish I had known her specific allegations when I confronted Ruben after she left the campaign or in time to stop what took place,” he said.
Samantha’s situation makes it very clear that there is no actual HR system in place on campaigns, and that is probably why people are unwilling to report such disturbing incidents as it would make the party or the candidate look bad.
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