A Democratic lawmaker dismissed reporters’ questions Wednesday about the disparity between consequences for sexual harassment in the private sector versus the consequences for such behavior in Congress by noting that politicians were “elected.”
NBC News Capitol Hill producer Alex Moe tweeted a video of reporters asking Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, about allegations of sexual misconduct by their colleague Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Multiple former Conyers staffers have accused the lawmaker of making unwanted sexual advances toward them during the course of their work.
In the video, Richmond and Clyburn faced questions about the allegations.
CBC Chair Richmond asks for ex. of ppl leaving jobs faster than Conyers when face sexual harassment claims; Clyburn… https://t.co/jL2ny526ms— Alex Moe (@Alex Moe) 1511973518.0
“Other men in other industries have faced similar accusations and gotten out of the way, resigned, stepped down far faster than he has, right?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t know, you would have to give me some examples,” Richmond replied.
The reporters cited Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer as examples of men who have lost their jobs over such allegations.
Clyburn, as he entered an elevator, asked, “Who elected them?”
“So it’s different if he’s elected?” a reporter asked. Clyburn did not reply as the elevator door closed.
Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe tweeted the same account of the exchange:
@RepJohnConyers I just raised this point with Reps. @CedricRichmond & Rep. @Clyburn: “You’re going to have to give… https://t.co/zAP2zHpE7M— Ed O'Keefe (@Ed O'Keefe) 1511972744.0
Clyburn, a member of Dem leadership, previously told the Times that Conyers allegations "could be made up." Now thi… https://t.co/6EPf40YqC8— Jesse Byrnes (@Jesse Byrnes) 1511975030.0
"So, it's different because he's elected?" a reporter asks. https://t.co/4Lng0FUoqo— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt) 1511973636.0
The response was promptly criticized as an effort to hold elected officials to their own standard.
They MAKE the laws. They don't have to OBEY the laws. https://t.co/R9iT7211Mf— I didn't vote for him, so think of a new retort (@I didn't vote for him, so think of a new retort) 1511974334.0
The same people that Congress has been keeping in the dark about their abusive behavior with secret settlements, th… https://t.co/9hbqcvjBcA— Ed Morrissey (@Ed Morrissey) 1511974727.0
Conyers’ political future remains unclear, he will be subject to an ethics investigation but has not indicated that he will resign.
Meanwhile, he is not the only member of Congress facing sexual harassment allegations — multiple women have accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of groping them. Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is also facing sexual assault allegations, including one accuser who said she was just 14 when the incident took place.