Politics

Flashback: Waters Called Conyers a Man of ‘Impeccable Integrity’ on Women’s Issues

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) praised her Democratic colleague, Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), in late October for being supportive of women for many years, but multiple former staffers alleged in a report on Monday that he had made unwanted sexual advances on his female staffers.

Waters addressed about 4,000 women at the Women's Convention in Detroit last month, where she praised Conyers for his commitment to women over the course of many years.

"You know, there is a member of Congress who has been supportive of women for many, many, years," Waters said. "He is quiet. He is confident. He is powerful, but he has impeccable integrity on all of our issues. Give John Conyers a big round of applause."

The outspoken critic of President Donald Trump also rallied the women by speaking out against sexual harassment and assault, praising women for coming forward and speaking out against "men who believed they were too rich and too powerful to ever be confronted or held accountable."

BuzzFeed reported on Monday that Conyers, 88, paid a woman over $27,000 in 2015 to settle her complaint, which also required her to sign a confidentiality agreement. The Associated Press summarized the complaints against Conyers:

BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately — rubbing their legs and backs — or requesting sexual favors. One former staffer said one of her duties was "to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources."

The AP went to Conyers' home in Detroit on Tuesday morning and asked him about the sexual harassment claims, prompting him to deny the allegations of inappropriate touching and say he learned about the story a few hours earlier while watching television.

"I have been looking at these things in amazement," he said, referring to recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault being made against celebrities and politicians.

He later released a statement admitting that his office "resolved the allegations—with an express denial of liability—in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation."

"That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment. There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter," Conyers continued.