Besieged representative resigns from Congress
DETROIT — Besieged by allegations of sexual harassment, Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress on Tuesday, bringing an abrupt end to the Detroit liberal’s nearly 52-year career in the House.
The 88-year-old civil rights leader becomes the highest-ranking figure on Capitol Hill to be brought down by the sexual misconduct allegations that have toppled powerful men in Hollywood, the media and politics in recent weeks.
Conyers made the announcement on a Detroit radio talk show and endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to succeed him.
“I’m in the process of putting my retirement plans together,” the congressman said from the hospital where he was taken last week after he complained he felt lightheaded. “I am retiring today.”
Shadawn Reddick-Smith, Conyers’ spokeswoman, said the retirement was effective Tuesday.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said Conyers, who has denied any wrongdoing. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”
Conyers, who was first elected in 1964 and went on to become a founding member in 1971 of the Congressional Black Caucus, easily won re-election last year in the heavily Democratic district. Until Tuesday, he was the longest-serving current member of Congress.
But amid a drumbeat of allegations he groped or sexual harassed women who worked for him, he faced growing calls to resign from colleagues in the House, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
As the furor grew in recent weeks, he stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who replaced Conyers as ranking member on the committee, said he was saddened by the resignation of his “friend and mentor” but added: “There can be no tolerance for behaviour that subjects women to the kind of conduct that has been alleged.”
The House Ethics Committee had been reviewing the harassment allegations.
Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, a grandson of Conyers’ brother, told The New York Times he plans to run for the seat.