Nevada Democrat Ruben Kihuen has announced that he will not run for re-election despite earlier vows to stay in Congress after accusations of sexual harassment were lodged against him.
The freshman Democrat has been dogged by accusations from a Nevada state lobbyist that he sexually harassed her for some time, but the allegations took on greater weight after the Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken allegations became national scandals.
After Minnesota’s Democrat Senator, Al Franken, resigned after nearly a dozen women accused him of misconduct, the allegations against Kihuen were again raised, but Kihuen refused to resign because, according to him, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knew all about the accusations but still backed him and gave him campaign money for his 2016 election campaign.
The 37-year-old Congressman insisted that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was also aware of the charges. “They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign,” he said last week.
Despite his protestation, leader Pelosi called for Kihuen to resign in light of the renewed allegations. The DCCC also removed him from its list of supported candidates and canceled fundraisers for him.
Now, it appears that the lack of support by party leaders has driven the first term Congressman to throw in the towel. Kihuen announced on Saturday that he would finish his term and then leave Congress.
However, Kihuen still denies the abuse allegations. Kihuen said in a statement released on Saturday:
I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question. However, the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign. Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family, and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection.
Kihuen’s announcement comes a day after the House Ethics Committee said it was going to launch an investigation into the allegations against him. Kihuen said he would cooperate fully with the investigation.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.