The U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee said on Friday it has begun an investigation into public reports that Democrat Ruben Kihuen engaged in sexual harassment, adding that announcing the probe was not a sign the committee already has determined the Nevada Representative violated any rules.
“As I’ve said previously, I intend to fully cooperate, and I welcome an opportunity to clear my name,” said Kihuen in a statement provided to Reuters.
Buzzfeed has reported that Kihuen, currently finishing his first year in Congress, harassed a staff member on his 2016 political campaign, and on Thursday multiple outlets recounted an anonymous lobbyist’s description of his unwanted advances. Reuters has not independently confirmed the reports.
Lawmakers from both parties have recently been ensnared in allegations of sexual misconduct, prompting the committee to launch a sweeping probe this month of all House members and their staff.
In the latest turn, Republican Representative Blake Farenthold announced this week he would not seek re-election after accounts surfaced that he created a hostile work environment.
In a Facebook post, Farenthold denied allegations of sexual harassment by former staff members but admitted he allowed an unprofessional culture to flourish in his Capitol Hill office.
Members of Congress are working on legislation to update the body’s rules on sexual harassment.
Representative Carolyn Maloney said she will introduce a bill on Friday that says companies cannot block sexual harassment victims from publicly disclosing the details of their allegations, which often are included in settlement agreements.
Allegations of misconduct in recent weeks have also been made against movie-makers, television interviewers and other men in the private sector.
SOURCE: Reuters, Lisa Lambert