By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a founding member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, retired from the U. S. Congress this week, leaving behind a stellar civil rights career amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Conyers, 88, under pressure from many of his colleagues and House leaders to resign, had initially stepped down from the House Judiciary Committee amidst the charges, but dropped the bombshell of his immediate retirement on the Detroit-based Mildred Gaddis radio show Tuesday.
“I am retiring today and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support and the incredible and undiminishing support I’ve received across the years from my supports, not only in my district but across the country as well.”
He added, “My legacy cannot be compromised or diminished in any way.
Conyers says he is supporting his son, John Conyers III to succeed him.”
Conyers, a lawyer, said in the interview that Congress should fully disclose the records of all of the $7 million that has been paid out by members of Congress in sexual harassment cases.
“I think there should be a complete disclosure in revealing to all of the citizens of the country what federal legislators are doing or not doing and any cost that may have incurred as a result of that. So, my answer to that is a strong unequivocal yes,” he told Mildred Gaddis’.
Conyers continued to deny any wrongdoing
“Whatever they are they are not accurate and they are not true. And they are something that I can’t explain where they came from,” Conyers said.
Conyers gave the interview while in a Detroit hospital. He had complained of light-headedness and chest pains last week.
Buzz Feed News revealed earlier this month that one unidentified staffer received a $27,000 settlement from Congress for wrongful dismissal from Conyers’ office in 2015. Melanie Sloan, a former Capitol Hill staffer for Conyers’ office, said during a television interview that on one occasion Conyers was dressed only in his undershorts and a shirt while working in his office.
Sloan admitted that Conyers did not approach her with sexual intentions. She also claimed Conyers yelled at her several times in the 1990s. In the charged atmosphere of Washington, D.C., yelling and temper flare ups are common. For example, the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz (R., Pennsylvania) angrily yanked his telephone out of the office wall so often that the telephone company refused to repair it.
The Washington Post named Maria Reddick, the congressman’s former scheduler, as the person who filed but later dropped a claim last February, accusing Conyers of inappropriate sexual advances. After Conyers had stepped down, 12 former staffers who are women claimed Conyers never behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner.
“Mr. Conyers was respectful, valued our opinions and challenged our thinking,” the women said.
The 88-year-old Conyers was first elected to Congress in 1964. He represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Previously, he represented Michigan’s 14th Congressional District. Known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers is one of its 13 founding members, which was organized in 1971. The CBC has 49 members.
NorthStarNewsToday.com contributed to this story.