Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) is calling on Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to resign after the Michigan legislator was accused of sexual harassment by former employees, mainly because she says an ethics investigation would “take forever.”
Rice is the latest lawmaker of Conyers’ Democratic colleagues to call for his resignation after several female Capitol Hill staffers alleged that he sexually harassed them, and the House Ethics Committee opened up an investigation into his conduct, the Daily Mail reported.
The New York Democrat told CNN in an interview Friday that she is pressuring Conyers to resign because she feels Congress should not get a pass for inappropriate behavior.
“Because enough is enough. At this point, what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America,” Rice said. “Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else?”
Rice then listed some high-profile figures in Hollywood and the media as examples of men who faced the consequences in their careers after their accusers went public with their allegations over the past few weeks, adding that Congress should not be exempt from public scrutiny.
“Compare what happened to Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin – all appropriate consequences. And yet once we start getting into the realm of politicians – ‘Well let’s get the ethics commission into it, and you know, Let’s investigate this,'” she said. “And, you know, and take forever to come up with a conclusion.”
Rice, a former Nassau County district attorney, pushed back on the notion that politicians accused of sexual harassment should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
“We don’t have any legal standard here. We are talking about the court of public opinion; we’re talking about holding men accountable for our actions,” she said.
Rice also joins Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) in calling for the senior Judiciary Committee member’s resignation.
Conyers, the longest-serving House member, said through his lawyer Arnold Reed, that he denies the allegations against him.
Reed said Conyers is innocent and that the lawmaker will not resign despite the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into his alleged misconduct.
The House Ethics Committee announced that it would investigate Conyers after a BuzzFeed News report revealed that Conyers’ congressional office paid a former female staffer $27,000 of taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim.
Conyers claims that the settlement was merely a “severance payment,” and his staff claims that a second accuser withdrew her lawsuit against the 88-year-old congressman.