Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced Sunday he will be stepping down as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
The move comes after it surfaced that he had paid a former staffer a settlement after she claimed she was fired for rebuffing Conyers’ sexual advances.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said.
The longest-serving member of the House has denied the claims against him.
“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics,” Conyers said.
Politico reported on Conyers departure from the post, which he has held since 1965:
Conyers’ departure from the position opens a powerful committee post and adds to turmoil roiling Capitol Hill amid a series of sexual harassment allegations against members and aides.
BuzzFeed broke the story last week that Conyers’ office had paid an accuser $27,000 to settle a complaint that she had been fired after refusing his sexual advances.
The settlement, using taxpayer funds, was reached outside of the formal reporting mechanism for sexual harassment claims—the Office of Compliance (OCC).
As Breitbart News reported, the office released a report that showed between fiscal year 1997 and fiscal year 2017 some $17 million had been handed out as settlements to individuals or groups of individuals who filed a variety of charges against members of Congress or staff, including sexual harassment claims.
“A large portion of cases originate from employing of offices in the legislative branch other than the House of Representatives or the Senate, and involve various statutory provisions incorporated by the [Congressional Accountability Act of 1995] CAA, such as the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family, and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Susan Tsui Grundmann, executive director of the OOC, wrote in the report.
“The statistics on payments are not further broken down into specific claims because settlements may involve cases that allege violations of more than one of the 13 statutes incorporated by the CAA.” the report read.