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As John Conyers’ Exits Top Democrats Recall His Fight for Civil Rights

John Conyers

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing. When sexual-misconduct allegations surface in the private sector, a boss really can say “You’re fired” – as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and others can attest. In the political world, it’s never that simple. Conyers, facing sexual misconduct allegations, has refused to step down even after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged the veteran Democrat from Detroit to do so. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

DETROIT (AP) — A top House Democrat says word of 27-term Michigan Rep. John Conyers’ retirement is a “sad end to a long career.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California said Tuesday that people shouldn’t forget Conyers’ notable accomplishments in civil rights and other issues.

Conyers was the first African-American to chair the Judiciary Committee and a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus. He sponsored legislation to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday and pushed for Rosa Parks to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda after her death.

The 88-year-old Conyers announced his retirement Tuesday amid allegations of sexual misconduct by former staffers. The congressman who replaced Rep. John Conyers as acting Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee says he is saddened by news of Conyers’ retirement.

Conyers has been beset by allegations of sexual harassment in recent weeks and has come under increasing pressure from House colleagues to resign. Calling Conyers a “friend and mentor,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler said in a statement that “there is no doubt that these allegations have taken a tremendous toll on him personally, as well as on his family and on everyone that knows him.”

But Nadler continues: “With that said, there can be no tolerance for behavior that subjects women to the kind of conduct that has been alleged.” The attorney for one of the women who has accused U.S. Rep. John Conyers of sexual harassment says the issue is “about much more than one congressman.”

Lisa Bloom told The Associated Press in an email following Conyers’ retirement announcement Tuesday that “systemic change is urgently needed so no other women have to endure the retaliation, secrecy and delays” that her client and others have experienced.

Marion Brown has said that she settled a complaint in 2015 that alleged she was fired because she rejected Conyers’ sexual advances. She was paid more than $27,000 by Conyers’ office in the confidential settlement.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating the allegations by Brown and other women who worked for Conyers. The House Ethics Committee will likely continue to investigate Rep. John Conyers, even though the veteran Democrat has announced he plans to retire.

The ethics panel retains jurisdiction over Conyers as long as the 27-term Democrat remains in Congress, and a senior legislative aide says the normal course would be for the ethics inquiry to continue.

The aide spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the individual wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly.

Lisa Bloom, an attorney for one of Conyers’s accusers, says her client, Marion Brown, “is ready, willing and able to testify as to her sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Conyers.” Brown reached a confidential settlement with Conyers over sexual harassment allegations but broke the confidentiality agreement to speak publicly last week.

Rep. John Conyers, who has been battling sexual harassment allegations by former female staffers, says he is retiring.

Conyers told “The Mildred Gaddis Show” on WPZR-FM Tuesday that this will be his final two-year term. The 88-year-old Democrat says he is endorsing his son to take his seat in Congress. Ian Conyers, the grandson of John Conyers’ brother, earlier said his great-uncle would not run for re-election and that he would run for his seat in Washington, D.C.

Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, easily won re-election last year in the heavily Democratic 13th District. The House Ethics Committee has been reviewing multiple harassment allegations against Conyers.

Among Conyers’ accusers, Marion Brown says he repeatedly propositioned her for sex during more than a decade working for him. Elisa Grubbs, another former staffer, says he slid his hand up her skirt in church.

A relative of John Conyers says the longest-serving current U.S. House member won’t seek re-election amid allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members.

Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, a grandson of John Conyers’ brother, told The New York Times early Tuesday that the decision comes after the 88-year-old Democrat’s doctor “advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him, just in terms of his health.”

Ian Conyers told the newspaper that his great-uncle “is not resigning. He is going to retire.” The report didn’t specify how Ian Conyers knew of the congressman’s plans. John Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed has said the congressman plans to speak on a Detroit radio show Tuesday morning about his political future.

A woman who says she worked for U.S. Rep. John Conyers for more than a decade says he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while she was sitting next to him in the front row of a church.

Elisa Grubbs made the allegation in an affidavit released by her attorney, Lisa Bloom. Grubbs is the cousin of another accuser, Marion Brown, who previously broke a confidentiality agreement to speak publicly.

Grubbs came forward as Conyers is expected to speak on a Detroit radio show Tuesday about his future. The 88-year-old Democrat is the longest-serving current House member.

Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed told the Detroit Free Press Grubbs’ allegations are “another instance of tomfoolery from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein’s attorney.” Bloom previously represented Hollywood executive Weinstein.

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