Rep. Conyers Resigns From Congress Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) resigned from Congress on Tuesday morning, more than a week after allegations of sexual misconduct against the congressman started surfacing.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released Tuesday afternoon, Conyers said he was retiring effective immediately.

It was initially unclear when Conyers’ retirement would be effective. Both Conyers and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who announced Conyers’ retirement on the House floor Tuesday morning, said that the retirement would be effective immediately. However, as of late Tuesday morning, the House speaker’s office and the Michigan governor’s office had not received official notification of Conyers’ plans to leave Congress, leaving it unclear whether Conyers resigned or announced plans to retire.

“I’m retiring today,” he announced on the Detroit radio show “The Mildred Gaddis Show.”

He endorsed his son, John Conyers, III, to replace him in Congress.

Conyers, who called into the show from the hospital where he’s been treated since last week, framed his departure from Congress as his retirement, not a resignation. The congressman resisted calls from Democratic leaders to resign last week as women continued to come forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual advances.

On Tuesday morning, he denied the accusations of sexual misconduct.

“Whatever they are, they are not accurate,” he said of the accusations from several former staffers. “I think they’re something that I can’t explain where they came from.”

Conyers told Gaddis that he is still putting his retirement plans together and that he will have more information soon.

His announcement that he will retire and endorse his son to replace him in Congress came after the grandson of his brother, Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, told multiple news outlets Monday night that he would run to replace Rep. Conyers.

Later on Tuesday morning, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) confirmed that Conyers has retired from Congress effective immediately and said that he had informed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder of his decision.

Although Lee indicated that the speaker’s office had been informed of Conyers’ intention to retire, a spokesperson for Ryan said that the speaker did not get a heads up about Conyers’ plans. The speaker’s office had not received an official letter from Conyers or a copy of the letter to the governor of Michigan as of late Tuesday morning.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also told TPM that the governor’s office has not received an official letter from Conyers by late morning.

Lee read aloud a statement from Conyers on the House floor in which the congressman acknowledged that the sexual misconduct allegations were a factor in his decision to retire.

“I recognize that in this present environment, due process will not be afforded to me. I was taught by my great woman, my mother, to honor women,” Conyers said in the statement read by Lee.

“I’ve stated my position on these allegations. I’ve worked with both women and men. Given the totality of the circumstance, of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring,” Conyers added. “I hope that my retirement will be viewed in the larger perspective of my record of service as I enter a new chapter.”

In his statement, Conyers listed his legislative achievements, particularly on civil rights issues.

“I’ve been a champion of justice for the oppressed and the disenfranchised. I never wavered in my commitment to justice and democracy. I am proud to have been part of that rich history,” he said.

Before reading the statement from Conyers, Lee said on the House floor that she does not want to undermine the rights of women or of victims.

“It is important to note as I begin that there is no difference or no undermining of the rights of women and the abhorrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. But this is a statement that I believe should be read on behalf of the Dean of the United States congress, Mr. John Conyers,” she said.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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