Cicilline, Langevin back Conyers investigation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s two Democratic congressmen say they support an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against their colleague John Conyers, but they are not joining calls for him to resign or give up his top spot on a key committee.

Conyers, an 88-year-old Democrat who’s represented Michigan in the U.S. House since 1965, has been under fire since BuzzFeed News revealed earlier this week his office paid a roughly $27,000 settlement to a former employee who said she lost her job when she did not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice on Wednesday became the first House Democrat to urge Conyers to resign, and Politico reported at least two others have said he should give up his post as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

But Congressman David Cicilline, who serves with Conyers on the Judiciary Committee, refused to go that far in a statement Wednesday.

“This is a very serious issue,” Cicilline told Eyewitness News. “Sexual harassment can never be tolerated. Every person has the right to feel safe and welcome in the workplace. These allegations are deeply disturbing. The Ethics Committee has begun an investigation into these allegations and I fully support this investigation.”

In addition, Cicilline urged passage of the newly introduced Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act (ME TOO Congress) Act that would change how the legislative branch handles sexual harassment.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Congressman Jim Langevin said he “believes that these allegations merit a prompt investigation and agrees with the Ethics Committee’s decision to launch a probe into this matter.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook