Pelosi Mum on Calls for Dem Lawmaker to Quit Amid Sexual Harassment Claims
House minority leader punted on whether Ruben Kihuen of Nevada should step down instead of running for another two-year term in Congress
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused Thursday to repeat her December call for Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) to resign due to sexual harassment allegations instead of seeking another term in Congress.
Kihuen (shown above left) reportedly is reconsidering his decision not to run for re-election in 2018 after his campaign finance director accused him in 2017 of sexually harassing her in 2015 and 2016, and a Democratic lobbyist accused him of touching her inappropriately during the 2015 legislative session.
The Nevada lawmaker claimed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) knew of the allegations against him as it helped fund his 2016 campaign. A DCCC spokesman denied Kihuen’s claim, The Nevada Independent reported.
Pelosi told reporters in December she had “asked him to resign from the start,” adding that “the young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward. In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign.”
Kihuen initially refused to resign, opting instead not to run for re-election in 2018. But when a reporter approached Pelosi during her weekly press conference Thursday with the news that Kihuen was reconsidering his withdrawal from the race before the March 16 filing deadline, Pelosi was mum.
“When he makes a decision, I’ll give you a reaction to it,” Pelosi said. “Let’s see what he decides to do … I don’t want to speculate on something that may or may not happen.”
Congress found itself mired in controversy after multiple lawmakers faced accusations of sexual misconduct in the wake of disgraced former media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s downfall in October 2017. U.S. citizens were even more outraged when it came to light that lawmakers had used thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual misconduct complaints against themselves.
During a speech on the House floor in November, Pelosi declared that members of Congress “have a moral duty to show real effective leadership to foster a climate of respect and dignity in the workplace, with absolutely zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, or abuse.”
“Anything less is unacceptable, my colleagues,” Pelosi said.
But the House minority leader faced criticism when she initially refused to say whether she believed former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) should resign after fielding sexual misconduct allegations.
Conyers had been the longest-serving member of Congress at the time and was one of Washington’s most prominent African-American lawmakers. After facing intense backlash, Pelosi called for Conyers’ resignation.
(photo credit, homepage image: Ruben Kihuen at the Fast Site, CC BY 2.0, by Worker Station; photo credit, article image: Speaker Pelosi On The Impact Of Health Insurance Reform, CC BY 2.0, by Nancy Pelosi)