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5 Dec, 2017 15:30

Congressman Conyers retires under pressure over sexual harrassment

Congressman Conyers retires under pressure over sexual harrassment

Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan) has announced his retirement from Congress, amid allegations of sexual misconduct. His departure was effective immediately, his lawyer said.

“I am retiring today,” Conyers, 88, said Tuesday on a Detroit radio show. “And I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support – the incredible, undiminished support I've received across the years from my supporters, not only in my district but across the country as well.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) read a letter from Conyers to his colleagues on the House floor, saying he notified Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) that he was vacating his seat.

"Given the totality of the circumstance of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring," the letter said, according to AFP.

Arnold Reed, a lawyer for Conyers, told AFP the departure was effective immediately.

Conyers said he was “in the process of putting together my retirement plans.” He reportedly endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to run for his seat in 2018.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” Conyers said, according to AP. “This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

“I’m absolutely going to file for his seat. The work of our congressional district, where I come out of, has to continue,” the younger Conyers said, according to the New York Times. “We have got to have someone who has depth and experience but also historical understanding of what it takes to fight this type of evil in Washington.”

Ian Conyers, a grandson of Conyers’ brother and currently a Michigan state senator, told the New York Times that he also plans to run. The 13th District congressional seat will most likely be filled via special election in the coming months.

Conyers checked into a Detroit hospital last week amid calls from top Democrats to step down, after a report published by BuzzFeed in late November revealed that he had reached a financial settlement with a former staffer who had accused him of sexual misconduct.

The staffer said she was fired for refusing his sexual advances and “blackballed” into accepting a settlement of $27,000 in 2015.

An icon of the civil rights movement, Conyers was first elected to Congress in 1964. His was the sixth-longest congressional tenure in US history.