Congressional Black Caucus Members Claim Rep. John Conyers Faces Racial Double Standard
The resignation of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who announced his retirement Tuesday (Dec. 5) amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment, has ignited a debate over racial double standards.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus see a hypocrisy in the response to allegations against Conyers, as opposed to multiple sexual harassment claims brought following white politicians like former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
Franken announced his resignation Thursday (Dec. 7), but the push to remove Conyers was swifter by comparison. While House Speaker Paul Ryan called for Conyers immediate resignation, but has been he's been Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle as sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a former aide in 2014. The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into the allegations. Farenthold promised to pay back the money used to settle the suit.
Though Ryan has called for Senate hopeful Roy Moore to drop out of the race after accusations of pedophilia, Moore garnered endorsements from President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.
"Certainly it seems as if there is indeed a double standard," Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), former CBC chair, said in reference to Conyers. “When it happens to one of us, we're guilty until proven innocent.”
Conyers' wife, Monica, had similar feelings towards the media camping outside of her home. “Do you all go and stalk other people’s houses?’’ she asked the press who were staked outside of her house last month, according to the Detroit Free Press. “Do you go and stalk white people’s houses or just come to the black neighborhoods and stalk our houses?”
Lat month, BuzzFeed News reported that in 2015, Conyers used $27,000 of taxpayer-funds to settle a wrongful dismissal suit from an ex-staffer who says she was fired after refusing his sexual advances. Other women have also lodged harassment claims against Conyers, including a former intern who says he propositioned her in a car in 2001.
As the longest serving member of Congress, and an instrumental figure in the Civil Rights Movement, 88-year-old Conyers doesn’t feel that the allegations can harm his legacy.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” he said in an interview with Detroit radio host Mildred Gaddis. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”