Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) is standing by her call for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to resign amid sexual harassment allegations, arguing that a congressional investigation into the matter is too little, too late.
Rice, a former prosecutor, became the first Democratic lawmaker to call on Conyers to resign after BuzzFeed reported Monday that several female former staffers have accused him of sexual harassment. The report revealed that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in 2015 with one of the women, who claimed he fired her after she rejected his sexual advances. Conyers has denied the allegations.
The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday that it was investigating the matter. But this has done little to appease some people, including Rice, who argued that such an investigation could take years and wouldn’t impose “real” accountability.
“Enough is enough,” Rice said during an appearance Friday on CNN. “At this point, what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America: Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else?”
Rice was apparently referring to the stark contrast between what has happened recently to people in the entertainment industry accused of sexual misconduct, versus what has happened to politicians facing similar claims. The outpouring of allegations against entertainment and media personalities has in many cases resulted in swift action against the accused, including job terminations, rescinded awards and other serious penalties. But politicians accused of similar behavior have remained mostly unscathed.
While she hasn’t called for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who has been the subject of several groping allegations recently, Rice suggested Friday that Conyers should be held to the same standard as Harvey Weinstein and others accused in the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations.
“We’re not talking about a court of law here,” Rice said. “We are talking about the court of public opinion. We’re talking about holding men accountable for their actions.”