Pelosi, DCCC chairman call for congressman accused of harassment to resign

Updated Dec 2, 2017 12:29 AM EST

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are calling on Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada to resign, after a report claiming a former campaign staffer accused him of harassing her.

On Friday, Buzzfeed News reported a 25-year-old woman left her job on Kihuen’s 2016 congressional campaign, citing repeated and unwanted propositions for dates and sex, and after he inappropriately touched her thigh on two occasions. Buzzfeed granted the woman’s request to have her last name withheld, so she is named only by her first name, Samantha. Buzzfeed reported the woman repeatedly refused Kihuen’s advances, but he continued to pursue her. 

“Across the nation, in every industry, brave women are coming forward to share stories of harassment that must be heard,” Pelosi said in a statement issued early Saturday morning. “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. “In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign.”

“Members and candidates must be held to the highest standard. If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should not hold elected office. Congressman Kihuen should resign,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. 

Luján called on the freshman congressman to resign when Buzzfeed detailed the allegations against him, while Pelosi’s statement came a few hours after the story was published. 

On Feb. 19. 2016, Kihuen told the woman they should “get a hotel room here” during a campaign-related visit to a hotel for a meeting with Rep. Tony Cardenas. The woman told BuzzFeed she refused. On the way back from the meeting to the campaign office, the woman claims Kihuen asked her if she’d ever cheated on her boyfriend, and started touching her thigh, according to BuzzFeed. On another occasion in March, the BuzzFeed report says Kihuen asked for help with something on the computer, and the woman alleges he grabbed the back of her thigh when she looked at the screen. 

In a statement from his congressional office, Kihuen called the staffer accusing him a “valued member of my team,” but revised his original statement to BuzzFeed to add that he does not “recall” any of the circumstances described. 


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