Once again there is a high-profile man being accused of sexual misconduct. Representative John Conyers, a ranking member of the House Committee on the Judiciary (and the longest serving member of the House of Representatives) reportedly settled at least four sexual misconduct cases in secret. Buzzfeed obtained four signed affidavits from former staff members of Conyers. Three out of the four affidavits have been notarized.

Public, congress, and leadership kept in the dark

NBC reported that Rep. John Conyers settled these claims without using the usual reporting channel.

NBC and Buzzfeed have documents showing that he used a ''taxpayer allocated Discretionary Fund" to settled these cases, paying them through a severance package. One of the alleged victims told Buzzfeed that Conyers fired her for refusing sexual advances from him, the claim was then settled together with a wrongful dismissal complaint.

Buzzfeed reports that the harassment ranged from requests for sexual acts to caressing and rubbing their backs in public. The reveal of Conyers using this channel to settle harassment charges has Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California concerned, she told NBC, "Conyers' settlement simply represented another way to bypass accountability." Using a severance package has created a way for Conyers to settle this allegation without the public knowing, and has kept it from Congressional leaders as well.

NBC reported that the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the complaints made against Rep. John Conyers. In a Tuesday statement House Ethics Committee Chair Susan Brooks and Ranking Democrat Ted Deutsch said, "The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in Sexual Harassment of members of his staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes."


John Conyers admitted that settlements were reached but told Buzzfeed he "vehemently denied" the claims of sexual harassment.

Me Too Congress Act

Multiple members of Congress have introduced a law that would give victims of sexual harassment more rights when coming forward. There are not many ways a victim can report sexual harassment in Congress, and the Me Too Act will open up doors for them to do so.

The Washington Post reported that Congress's office of compliance paid out $17 million of taxpayers' money for 264 different settlements over the last 20 years for many violations, including sexual harassment. The concern now is how many other victims were paid off and kept silent by other Congress members. The latest news might expand the Me Too Act to prevent future claims from remaining in the dark.