Ruben Kihuen faces accusations he made multiple unwanted advances on a staffer
"I'm not resigning," he said in an interview outside his Washington office
Rep. Ruben Kihuen reiterated Wednesday that he’s not resigning but wouldn’t say whether he plans to run for re-election in 2018, as the Nevada Democrat faces calls from party leaders to step aside amid allegations of sexual harassment.
“I’m not resigning,” he said in an interview outside his Washington office, before saying it again: “I’m not resigning.”
Asked about his plans for next year’s midterm elections, Kihuen would only say that he wasn’t stepping aside in the near future.
“Look, I’m definitely not resigning,” he repeated. “That’s all I can tell you for now.”
He’s expected to make a statement about his campaign plans in the next few days.
His comments come after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee removed him from their “Frontline” website, a program that helps vulnerable Democrats. In the 2016 race, the committee spent roughly $3 million on the closely contested race.
The spat with the DCCC began after the group’s chairman, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Kihuen to step aside. BuzzFeed News reported allegations Friday from a former campaign staffer who said Kihuen made multiple unwanted advances last year, prompting her to quit his campaign.
Pushing back against the calls for resignation, Kihuen this week argued that DCCC leaders knew about the allegations last year but did not take any action and continued to campaign for him.
“I do find it interesting that the DCCC, Leader (Nancy) Pelosi and Chairman Ben Ray Lujan – they knew about these allegations last year,” Kihuen told ABC News on Tuesday.
Asked Wednesday if he had any further evidence that the DCCC leaders knew about the allegations, Kihuen hung his claim on the BuzzFeed article. “If you look at the BuzzFeed story, it clearly states on there that the DCCC knew about this investigation, so again, you know, that’s all I have to say,” he said.
The article states that the woman making the accusations told a mid-level aide at the DCCC in March 2016 about Kihuen’s behavior, and another midlevel DCCC staffer approached Kihuen’s campaign manager (neither staffer is still with the DCCC).
When the campaign manager approached Kihuen about it, Kihuen denied any improper behavior at the time, according to BuzzFeed.
The DCCC continues to argue that the group was not aware of the allegations until Friday.
“Congressman Kihuen’s statement is not true,” spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement. “We were presented with these disturbing facts for the first time last week, and the chair immediately called for his resignation.”
Kihuen said Wednesday he does not feel that the controversy is affecting his job, adding that he plans to hold public events this weekend in his district. “I was elected to do a job for two years and that’s what I intend to do,” he said.
The freshman Democrat’s insistence he will remain in the House comes on the same day a flood of Senate Democrats called on Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign, following a series of allegations from women saying Franken groped them and made unwanted advances, both before he was elected and after he took office. Franken scheduled an event for Thursday to announce what he will do about his political future.
CNN reported Tuesday that Kihuen’s chief of staff sent out an email to multiple offices on Capitol Hill asking about any job openings for Kihuen’s staff, shedding light on the impact that such controversies have on staffers and fueling speculation that Kihuen was thinking about stepping down.
His staffers did not respond to CNN’s requests about whether they want to leave the office.