Ethics committee investigation finds Rep. Kihuen harassed women in violation of House rules
Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) made “persistent and unwanted advances” toward women in violation of House rules, the House Ethics Committee said Friday.
Last December, BuzzFeed reported that one woman had quit working for Kihuen’s campaign after he had repeatedly propositioned her for unwanted dates and sex. Top Democrats, including Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the chair of the DCCC, and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately called for Kihuen to resign.
“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign. The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward,” Pelosi said in December. “In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign.”
Kihuen refused to step down, though he did not seek re-election in the wake of the allegations, which prompted a House Ethics Committee investigation. The report from that investigation was released Friday and included more than 100 pages of text messages, chats, and emails between Kihuen and the women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Kihuen made persistent and unwanted advances towards women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities,” the report said, according to Roll Call.
As BuzzFeed reported last year, among other aggressive and inappropriate behavior, Kihuen once followed the staffer who later quit the campaign to her car.
“He followed me to my car and said, ‘You look really good, I’d like to take you out if you didn’t work for me,’” she told the outlet.
The staffer said she told Kihuen that she had a boyfriend, but that only made him more aggressive; he asked if she had ever “cheated on her boyfriend” and continued to say he would take her out if she didn’t work for him.
As Roll Call noted Friday, House rules state that “a Member… of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House” and “shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Rules of the House.”
Last year, the day after the House committee announced its investigation, Kihuen disputed the allegations against him, but said they “would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a re-election campaign.”
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said there is a chance Congress could finally pass sexual harassment legislation, which would reform the legislature’s outdated reporting process that currently includes forced arbitration.
“We’re working on getting that done before the end of the year,” he said of the legislation they first took on more than a year ago now.
Democrat Steven Horsford beat Republican Cresent Hardy in last week’s midterm elections and will fill Kihuen’s seat in Congress.