Democrats Defer to the Ethics Committee

• November 29, 2017 2:32 pm


When asked about whether Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) should resign, most Democrats have one answer: defer the matter to the House and Senate Ethics committees, respectively.

Both Franken and Conyers have been accused of sexual misconduct and are under investigation by their respective chambers' ethics committees.

At least three women have accused Franken of inappropriately touching their buttocks and another woman accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her. The Minnesota senator apologized to the women and said that he never imagined sexual misconduct allegations would come out against him. Franken has said that he will fully cooperate with the House Ethics Committee and feels ashamed of his past behavior.

Multiple former female staffers in Conyers' office have accused the Michigan Democrat of sexually harassing them. BuzzFeed News first reported last week that Conyers settle a sexual harassment claim with one woman for $27,000 in 2015. Three other former staffers then came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Conyers, saying the congressman engaged in inappropriate behavior while they worked for him.

Conyers confirmed the 2015 settlement but has denied all accusations of sexual harassment.

"I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics," Conyers wrote Sunday.

Conyers stepped down as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee amid the accusations.

Unlike men in other industries who have recently resigned or been fired after being accused of sexual misconduct, elected officials like Conyers and Franken have refused to step aside.

Fellow Democrats have been reluctant to call for their resignation, instead waiting for the ethics committees to finish their investigations.

"As of now, I think it's appropriate that there be an ethics inquiry," Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) said in response to CNN host Jake Tapper's question on whether Franken should step down.

"I supported the Senate Ethics Committee looking at Franken," Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) told CNN host Poppy Harlow when asked whether Franken should resign.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) faced backlash after she appeared to defend Conyers by calling him an icon and deferring to the ethics committee.

When asked why he is not calling for Conyers' resignation, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) appeared to think it would have no effect.

"Calling for the resignation of someone does not actually create the resignation," Crowley said.

As the accusations against Conyers grow, however, some Democrats have started to call on him to resign.