Paul Ryan: Conyers Sexual Misconduct Allegations ‘Extremely Troubling’

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joins other Washington Republicans calling on Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore to quit the race after two women stepped forward and described how Moore groped them when they were teenagers decades ago, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Ryan calls allegations of sexual assault ”credible,” and says Moore should step aside. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the news that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a sexual misconduct complaint with a staffer in 2015 “extremely troubling” and vowed to continue reviewing House policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.

“People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination,” Ryan said, outlining the recent steps the House has made to combat sexual misconduct in Congress.

Last month the Committee on House Administration reviewed its procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination, and last week that committee issued a new policy requiring “mandatory training for all members and staff,” he said.

“Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review,” he said.

Additionally, Sens. Kristen Gillabrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced legislation last week that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints as well as require mandatory training for everyone in Congress.

Ryan’s statement follows news first reported by BuzzFeed that Conyers paid a former staffer a $27,000 settlement two years ago after the staffer filed a complaint claiming Conyers fired her for refusing his sexual advances. Conyers also made sexual advances toward more than one female staff member and asked other women for sexual favors, according to copies of affidavits shared with BuzzFeed.

When reached for comment, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office referred TPM to the statement she gave Buzzfeed, which said she was not aware of the settlement and that she supports efforts to make the complaint process more transparent.

“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi told Buzzfeed. “I strongly support her efforts.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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