Democrats’ campaign chair: Nevada congressman should resign following sexual harassment accusations

The chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign committee is calling on a first-term Democratic Nevada congressman to resign, following a report that he sexually harassed an aide during his 2016 congressional campaign.

In an article published by BuzzFeed Friday afternoon, Rep. Ruben Kihuen was accused of making repeated sexual advances toward his then-campaign finance director by a woman identified as “Samantha.” BuzzFeed said it is withholding her surname at her request. Samantha alleges that Kihuen propositioned her for dates and sex, and twice touched her thighs without consent.

Samantha said she did not feel comfortable telling the campaign’s leadership about the alleged harassment, so she quit.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, as the 115th Congress began.

Kihuen released a statement Friday night in response to the BuzzFeed article, in which he apologized — but also claimed not to recall any alleged harassment.

“The staff member in question was a valued member of my team,” Kihuen said. “I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable. I take this matter seriously as it is not indicative of who I am, but I want to make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances she described.” (The initial statement from Kihuen, however, omitted “but I want to make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances she described.”)

L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File
In this Oct. 29, 2016, file photo, Nevada state Sen. Ruben Kihuen speaks at the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters building in Las Vegas, Nev.

Kihuen also addressed in his statement his affinity for supporting women’s rights. “I was raised in a strong family that taught me to treat women with the utmost dignity and respect,” he said. “I have spent my fifteen years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so.”

Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on October 17, 2017.

Despite the apology, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is calling for Kihuen to resign.

“Members and candidates must be held to the highest standard,” Lujan said in a statement. “If anyone is guilty of…

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