Detroit Free Press Turns on Conyers
This editorial below is from Conyers hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press.
John Conyers Jr. has a long and complicated legacy in southeast Michigan and the U.S. Congress.
He has been an undisputed hero of the civil rights movement, a legislator of uncommon influence and power, and an aging icon whose felonious wife and sometimes-wandering pace have confounded his place in history.
But the revelations of Conyers’ alleged sexual harassment scandal and his documented use of taxpayer dollars to bury that scandal, in violation of congressional ethics rules, is less ambiguous.
It is the kind of behavior that can never be tolerated in a public official, much less an elected representative of the people.
And it means that whatever Conyers’ legacy will eventually be, his tenure as a member of Congress must end — now.
He should resign his position and allow the investigation into his behavior to unfold without the threat that it would render him, and the people he now represents, effectively voiceless.
A voice for equality
We reach this conclusion with an incredible amount of disappointment.
The word “hero” is invoked, without much hyperbole, around Conyers’ name, dating not only to his initial run for Congress in the mid-1960s, but to the stalwart civil rights activism in the 1950s and early 1960s that brought him to that point.
His career in Congress saw him play key roles in everything from voting rights and health care reform to the creation of the Martin Luther King Holiday. And even in recent years, when he has struggled with focus and the rigor of the job, he has remained a steadfast voice for social justice and equality.
A problem in Congress
But even the most generous interpretation of the story revealed early this week is absolutely devastating to his ability to stay in Congress.
Monday night, the news site BuzzFeed reported a former Conyers staffer’s claims that she was fired after she rebuffed the congressman’s persistent sexual advances.
Those claims were made in sworn affidavits by the alleged victim and three other former staffers, all obtained by BuzzFeed.
In the current climate of revelations about powerful men abusing their positions and committing horrific acts of harassment, abuse or assault on women, those allegations should be enough to spur a dedicated congressional inquiry. Without a doubt, Congress has a real problem, and one that the American people deserve to see resolved.