Conyers to Decide Within Days on Political Future

Heather Caygle, Politico, December 1, 2017

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) will decide in the next few days whether to resign in the face of sexual harassment allegations involving three women, his attorney said Friday.

“We will discuss in the next day or so what Mr. Conyers plans to do,” the attorney, Arnold Reed, said at a news conference in Detroit.

“As you know his health is not the best, is not what it should be, he has undergone a second round of examinations. I will meet and confer with doctors and it will be Congressman John Conyers who will be the one to decide what it is he’s going to do.”

Congressional leaders called on Conyers, the longest serving House member, to step down Thursday and Democratic aides said earlier Friday that they expected his resignation was imminent. Before the press conference, representatives for Conyers were trying to negotiate a resignation date that will allow the congressman to receive one more paycheck, according to multiple Democratic aides.

Reed blasted one of Conyers’ accusers, Marion Brown, who went on NBC’s “Today” to publicly tell her story Thursday after it was first reported by BuzzFeed last week. Conyers settled a claim with Brown for $27,000 in 2015. She said she was fired for refusing to give into his repeated sexual advancements.

“It was sexual harassment, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guys discussing business and then proposition me for sex. He’s just violated my body,” Brown said. “He has touched me in different ways and it was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.”

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Conyers’ attorney also questioned why Brown didn’t come forward sooner given that she worked for the Michigan Democrat for more than 10 years. Brown has said Conyers harassed her multiple times during her tenure and that she alerted superiors but they took no action. Brown has also been bound by a confidentiality agreement since the 2015 settlement.

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A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment on Reed’s press conference. On Thursday, Pelosi called for Conyers to resign and a number of Democrats, including Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest ranking African-American lawmaker, followed her lead.

“The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It’s very sad,” Pelosi said Thursday. “Congressman Conyers should resign.”

Reed also reiterated criticisms that lawmakers were unfairly calling on Conyers to resign while not asking the same of white lawmakers including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who faces multiple groping allegations, and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who settled a sexual harassment complaint with an aide in 2014.

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Conyers, 88, has been hospitalized since Wednesday night after complaining of chest pains and dizziness, his attorney told reporters Friday. Reed said he hasn’t spoken personally with Conyers in two days but plans to speak with him this weekend and will have further updates about his future after that.

Health “will be paramount in any decision that the congressman makes. Not any pressure from Washington,” Reed said. “If the congressman hadn’t done anything wrong and he’s maintaining that, I don’t see why he should apologize.”

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