Conyers ‘Vehemently’ Denies Claims, Says Settlement Was To Avoid Litigation

J. Scott Applewhite

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) on Tuesday “vehemently” denied allegations of sexual impropriety published by BuzzFeed News Monday night, but he did acknowledge resolving allegations with one former staffer who accused him of firing her for refusing his advances.

“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” Conyers said in a statement shared with TPM. (Read Conyers’ full statement below.) “My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Conyers denied knowledge of the claims in the BuzzFeed story when approached by a reporter at his home.

“Conyers, who answered the door at his Detroit home Tuesday morning, says he knows nothing about any claims of inappropriate touching and learned of the story just hours earlier,” the AP wrote.

But a spokesperson for Conyers said, in the same email that included the congressman’s statement, that “Congressman Conyers was under the impression the reporter was speaking of recent allegations of which he was unaware of and denied,” when the AP made an “unannounced visit” to Conyers’ home.

BuzzFeed reported Monday night that Conyers had reached a $27,000 settlement with a former staffer who claimed she had been fired from his office for refusing his sexual advances.

Reporting out documents provided by the right-wing conspiracist Mike Cernovich, BuzzFeed confirmed the authenticity of four affidavit related to the case, including with the woman accusing Conyers of misconduct. The settlement was reportedly paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget.

BuzzFeed reported that at least one other former staffer reported sexual advances from Conyers in an affidavit. She also wrote: “I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers.”

Read Conyers’ full statement below:

I have long been and continue to be a fierce advocate for equality in the workplace and I fully support the rights of employees who believe they have been harassed or discriminated against to assert claims against their employers.  That said, it is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true.  The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused.  The current media environment is bringing a much-needed focus to the important issue of preventing harassment in workplaces across the country.  However, equally important to keep in mind in this particular moment is the principle of due process and that those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise.   In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process.  In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so.  My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation.  That should not be lost in the narrative.  The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.  There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter.  To the extent the House determines to look further at these issues, I will fully cooperate with an investigation.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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