Pelosi calls on U.S. Rep. Kihuen to resign after sexual harassment report

By Allen Cone  |  Updated Dec. 2, 2017 at 6:05 PM
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Dec. 2 (UPI) -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called on U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., to resign after a report emerged that he sexually harassed an aide during his 2016 congressional campaign.

A 25-year-old woman left her job as finance director because of what she says were repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex by Kihuen, who was then 35. BuzzFeed is only identifying the woman as Samantha.

"In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign," Pelosi said in a statement released shortly after midnight Saturday. "The young woman's documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward. In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign."

Earlier Friday, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also called on first-term congressman to resign.

"Members and candidates must be held to the highest standard," Lujan said in a statement. "If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should not hold elected office. Congressman Kihuen should resign."

Kihuen released a statement Friday night in which he apologized and claimed not to recall any alleged harassment.

"The staff member in question was a valued member of my team," Kihuen said. "I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable. I take this matter seriously as it is not indicative of who I am, but I want to make it clear that I don't recall any of the circumstances she described."

Samantha said on two occasions Kihuen touched her thighs without consent.

"I didn't know what they could do, but I felt like I had to let someone know," she said.

Samantha said she spoke with a contact at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to explain why she was quitting so abruptly.

A mid-level staffer who no longer works with the committee confirmed the conversation, but said he didn't remember any specifics beyond her discomfort with Kihuen.

Kihuen was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to Las Vegas as a child. He is not married, according to Votesmart.org.

"I was raised in a strong family that taught me to treat women with the utmost dignity and respect," Kihuen said. "I have spent my 15 years in public service fighting for women's equality, and I will continue to do so."

Pelosi has called on another Democratic House member -- Rep. John Conyers of Michigan -- to resign because of harassment allegations. Pelosi made the comments to reporters but did not issue a statement calling on Conyers to resign. In a statement Pelosi said she had spoken to the alleged victim, Melanie Sloan, and "I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me."

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