(by Jackie Callow)
Michigan Representative John Conyers, Jr. announced Tuesday that he will leave Congress immediately, and endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him.
The Democratic Representative is the longest-serving member of the House and is the longest serving Black representative in history. However, his legacy becomes irreversibly tarnished amid a slew of allegations of sexual harassment from former employees.
Conyers, Jr., who has been in office since 1965 and recently stepped aside as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committe, called in to a local radio show to make his announcement.
He also continued to deny the claims against him and reiterated that he doesn’t understand where the allegations stem from.
But after a woman who settled a sexual harassment claim against Conyers, Jr. said on television that the congressman had: “violated” her, repeatedly propositioned her for sex, and asked her to touch his genitals; other former staff members began to come forward with their own claims of harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, had each called on Conyers to resign already following the public accusations.
Conyers decision to step down ses the stage for an inter-family battle for his now vacant Michigan House seat.
Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, has also announced plans to run for the seat of his great uncle, the 88-year-old Conyers, Jr.
But Conyers is not the only politician facing backlash currently.
Al Franken, the Democratic Senator from Minnesota, has thus far been accused by five separate women of inappropriate touching, and has seen Senior Democratic Leadership call for his resignation as well.
Texas Representative Joe Barton, a Republican and the Texas delegation’s most senior House member, announced this week via The Dallas Morning News that he would not be seeking re-election after sexually suggestive messages that he sent to a constituent online came to light.
And Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, was found to have used taxpayer funds amounting to $84,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim with his former communications director, Lauren Greene.