Eshoo, Speier say Conyers should step down; they offer opinions on Franken

Daily Post Staff Writer

Peninsula Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier both called on Detroit Rep. John Conyers yesterday to resign amid revelations that he settled a sexual harassment complaint with a woman on his staff in 2015.

Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, also called on Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who was accused of sexual harassment by a fifth woman yesterday, to step down. “Zero tolerance should be the standard in Congress and to achieve this, established cases of sexual misconduct should result in resignation,” Eshoo said in an email to the Post. “Both should resign.”

Speier, D-San Mateo, condemned Franken for his mistreatment of women, but said that whether he steps down would be “a Senate decision, obviously.”

“He shows a pattern of behavior that’s equally reprehensible, and as much as he may be a senator whose politics I like, I deplore his treatment of women,” Speier said.

‘Reprehensible’ conduct

In October, Speier publicly disclosed her own experience being sexually harassed as a young Congressional staffer. On Nov. 15, she introduced a bipartisan bill that aims to reform sexual harassment prevention and response measures in Congress.

But until yesterday, she hadn’t called on Conyers, a Democrat, to resign.

“I’ve said all week that I believe the victims, and I was hoping that Mr. Conyers would do the right thing and resign, but it appears that he’s unwilling to do so,” Speier told the Post. “We have an obligation to the institution, and his conduct is reprehensible.”

The Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, or ME TOO Congress Act, would require annual training for members of Congress and their employees, implement climate surveys, give interns and fellows the same protections as full-time employees and end forced mediation.

Nondisclosure agreements

Employees reporting sexual harassment also wouldn’t be subject to nondisclosure agreements.

The complaint process protects the accused, Speier said. Most victims don’t come forward.

“When you come forward, you’re putting yourself out there to be scrutinized and kind of put under a microscope,” Speier said.

The calls for Conyers to step down by Eshoo and Speier came hours after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for him to resign. She had faced criticism after calling Conyers an “icon” on “Meet the Press” Sunday and refusing to call for his resignation.

BuzzFeed reported that Conyers’ office had paid his former staffer more than $27,000 in a confidential settlement. Affidavits from former staff members described Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.

Conyers, 88, was in the hospital with dizziness and chest pain yesterday, CNN reported.

Five women accuse Franken

Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden wrote in a blog post on Nov. 16 that Franken, a former Saturday Night Live comedian, had forcibly kissed her while rehearsing a skit during a USO tour in 2006. A photo shows Franken appearing to grope her in her sleep. Yesterday, Army veteran Stephanie Kemplin said Franken touched her breast while posing for a photo during a 2003 USO tour.

Three other women have made similar allegations.