The editorial board at one of the most influential publications in Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) home district wants their representative to resign.
In an editorial published Wednesday, the paper praised Conyers’ valiant history as a “stalwart” leader in the civil rights movement and his work in Congress the past 53 years to pass major voting rights and health care reform legislation. Because of that success as a lawmaker, the paper said it reached its conclusion with “an incredible amount of disappointment.”
BuzzFeed was first to report Tuesday that Conyers paid a $27,000 settlement to a former staffer after she complained to the compliance office that she was fired because she resisted Conyers’ sexual advances. The BuzzFeed report was based on sworn affidavits made by the alleged victim and three other former staffers. The allegations in and of themselves are enough cause for Conyers’ resignation, the Detroit Free Press said.
“In the current climate of revelations about powerful men abusing their positions and committing horrific acts of harassment, abuse or assault on women, those allegations should be enough to spur a dedicated congressional inquiry,” the editorial said. “Without a doubt, Congress has a real problem, and one that the American people deserve to see resolved.”
The paper also took issue with Conyers’ decision to quietly settle the complaint through his congressional office when it could have been done through the compliance office, which pays for the settlement of complaints from employees for members of Congress. The editors said that sort of handling is commonplace in the private sector, but should “never, ever happen where public dollars (and public accountability) are concerned.”
“John Conyers Jr. must go – after 53 years in Congress, after a stellar career of fighting for equality, after contributing so much to southeast Michigan and the nation,” they wrote. “It’s a tragic end to his public career. But it’s the appropriate consequence for the stunning subterfuge his office has indulged here, and a needed warning to other members of Congress that this can never be tolerated.”