U.S. congressman Conyers to retire after harassment accusations

U.S. congressman Conyers to retire after harassment accusations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – John Conyers, the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives, will announce on Tuesday he does not plan to run for re-election, U.S. media said following accusations of sexual harassment against the Michigan Democrat.

Conyers’ lawyer, in a tweet, dismissed the reports. The lawmaker is expected to make comments at 10:15 a.m (1515 GMT) on a local radio program.

The New York Times, citing a relative, said Conyers would announce his retirement on the radio show. Other local media also reported the plans, citing sources close to Conyers.

“He is not resigning. He is going to retire,” Conyers’ great-nephew Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, told the Times, adding that he planned to run for the seat in Congress himself.

But Conyer’s lawyer, Arnold Reed, wrote on Twitter: “I have not spoken to Ian Conyers and no one is aware of the congressman’s plans except he and I and his wife.”

The House Ethics Committee last week opened an investigation into Conyers, 88, after he said his office had resolved a harassment case of a former staffer with a payment but no admission of guilt.

Conyers has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.

Congress has been reviewing policies on how to handle sexual harassment complaints after a string of cases involving prominent figures in the U.S. media, Hollywood and politics.

Women have accused Conyers, along with other U.S. lawmakers and political candidates, including Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, of sexual misconduct.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top U.S. Democratic House lawmakers, along with Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, have called on Conyers to resign immediately.

However, so far, no major U.S. politician has stepped down amid sexual harassment or misconduct even as a string of high-profile American media personalities have been fired over similar accusations.

Conyers, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus who was first elected to the House in 1964, stepped down last month as the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid the allegations.

Several former employees have publicly accused the lawmaker of a range of misdeeds, including inappropriate touching, sexual invitations and showing up for a meeting with one woman in his underwear.

Twelve other women who said they had worked for Conyers defended him in a statement last month, saying that they did not see him behave inappropriately.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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