Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond said the group isn’t pressuring Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan to step down following allegations of sexual harassment, telling reporters Wednesday they believe it’s “a decision for he and his family and his constituents to make.”
Five women have come forward with allegations that the 88-year-old Democrat behaved inappropriately during the time they worked in his office. Conyers — who flew back to his home state Monday to spend time with his family — adamantly denies the accusations. Richmond said the House Ethics Committee needs to conduct a swift and thorough investigation to verify what took place.
“When you’re in elected office, it’s those people in his congressional district in Detroit and his family that will weigh in on what happens while the ethics investigation is going on,” Richmond said following the Congressional Black Caucus meeting Wednesday. “He is fully cooperating with the ethics investigation and has said that he wishes for a very transparent and thorough investigation that he believes will clear him and we support the investigation.”
With Ethics investigations often taking two years or more in the House, Richmond said the CBC believes the process needs to be reformed.
“Ethics traditionally has been a very slow process,” he said. “And we think that that is bad for both the accuser and the accused to have a long drawn out process.”
Richmond said getting the facts in a timely manner is critical, particularly when members of Congress are calling on those accused to step down from their committee posts or resign. The Louisiana Democrat said he thinks it’s fair for members of Congress to be held to a higher standard as they are representing their districts and impacting major policy areas that affect the country.
“Ethics has to come down on what they believe — if these allegations are true, then they are serious, they are disturbing,” Richmond said. “They’re awful because we just do not tolerate harassment in the workplace or anywhere else,” he continued.