We’re starting to learn the details behind the alarming Congressional Office of Compliance (COC) report which has logged over 260 federal misconduct settlements since 1997 costing taxpayers at least $17 million. Enter longest-serving congressional Democrat Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and his contributions to that astronomical amount.
In 2015, Conyers paid a female staffer $27,111.75 after she filed a complaint with the COC the year before claiming she had been fired for refusing the top-ranking Democrat’s sexual advances. That bought her silence through a confidentiality agreement and saved Conyers from having to admit fault. But the release of the woman’s complaint, via BuzzFeed, details some of the behavior she allegedly endured:
“In her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to ‘touch it,’ in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.”
She also said Conyers scheduled her to work at night and on holidays so he could have a female companion by his side. During a seperate traveling event, Conyers begged her to stay in his room and after she refused he said, “Just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.” Conyers made it clear that succumbing to his will would lead to “salary increases or promotions.”
The woman, who is remaining anonymous, said about the settlement, “I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go.”
But hers wasn’t the only complaint. According to three other former female staffers’ signed affidavits, Conyers didn’t have his eyes, or hands, on just one woman:
“One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers 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,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)
The employee said in her affidavit that Conyers also made sexual advances toward her: “I was driving the Congressman in my personal car and was resting my hand on the stick shift. Rep. Conyers reached over and began to caress my hand in a sexual manner.”
The woman said she told Conyers she was married and not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit. She said she was told many times by constituents that it was well-known that Conyers had sexual relationships with his staff, and said she and other female staffers felt this undermined their credibility.
“I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers,” she said in her affidavit.
One of the women stated she personally chauffeured women to Conyers at various apartments and hotel rooms.
A male staffer also provided a signed affidavit that alleged he saw Conyers inappropriately rub and touch women and that he confronted the lawmaker about the behavior. The man said Conyers agreed to be “more careful,” especially during a re-election campaign, but asked that the male staffer stop writing reports stating those “concerns.”
“I don’t think any allegations should be buried,” one of the former employees told BuzzFeed. “And that’s for anyone, not just for this particular office, because it doesn’t really allow other people to see who these individuals are. When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”
BuzzFeed notes that Conyers reputation as a “civil rights icon” made staffers “fearful to speak out against him” and made Conyers appear “untouchable.”
“Aside from being the longest-serving House member and the ranking member of a powerful [House Judiciary] committee, Conyers is a civil rights icon,” the report states. “He was lauded by Martin Luther King Jr. and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
The article notes that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was unaware of the pay-off, as did former Speaker John Boehner and current Speaker Paul Ryan. But now they do! Care to handle this and root out the others? We’re waiting.