Political News

Speier: Conyers not one of harassers I mentioned last week

Posted November 21, 2017 8:07 p.m. EST

— Last week, Rep. Jackie Speier said that she knew of two sitting members of Congress who have "engaged in sexual harassment." But the California Democrat on Tuesday said that Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, who is now facing allegations, was not one of the people she had referenced.

Speier is declining to reveal the names of the two sitting lawmakers -- one Democrat and one Republican -- out of deference to the victims and their potential legal restrictions.

The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday it is opening an investigation into Conyers in the wake of a BuzzFeed report detailing a harassment allegation against the longtime member of Congress. Conyers himself has denied any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday evening, CNN's John Berman asked Speier whether Conyers was one of the sitting members she was referring to last week.

"No, he's not," Speier said in the interview on CNN's "AC 360."

Asked whether at this point she could name the two members she was referring to, Speier continued to decline.

"I'm respecting that nondisclosure agreement and the victim's wishes," Speier said.

The California Democrat, along with Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, among others, has emerged as one of the leading voices in Congress on the issue of sexual harassment and assault. Last month, Speier described instances when she had been harassed and assaulted while she was a young staffer in Congress.

She has come forward with legislation to overhaul Congress' current system to deal with sexual harassment, mandating transparency and payment by the offender instead of the taxpayer.

"The member should be named, and the repayment to the Treasury should be made by the individual who was the sexual harasser," Speier said.

Speier said the Conyers allegations indicate that the number of accusations and settlements was larger than they had figured previously.

Conyers' office, according to the documents BuzzFeed published, paid a settlement through its own budget instead of the congressional Office of Compliance, as had been the case in other settlements.

Speier said that move needed to be looked into as part of the ethics probe.

"The allegations are serious, and that's why they need to be investigated," Speier said.