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Kihuen Harassment Accuser Not Contacted By House Ethics Investigation

Nevada Democratic rep retiring at end of term over allegations

Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., has said he welcomes the Ethics investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., has said he welcomes the Ethics investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The woman accusing Rep. Ruben Kihuen of repeated instances of sexual harassment said she has not been contacted directly by the House Ethics Committee regarding its probe into the Nevada Democrat’s behavior.

The woman, Kihuen’s 25-year-old campaign finance director in 2016, accused him of repeated unwanted sexual advances that included physical contact, prompting the investigation.

Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks of Indiana announced the probe last Friday.

Kihuen welcomed the Ethics investigation as “an opportunity to clear my name,” he said in a statement last Friday. The freshman congressman intends to “fully cooperate,” he said.

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Nearly three weeks ago, Buzzfeed News reported that the former Kihuen campaign staffer had rebuffed multiple advances and said he touched her without her consent. Last week, the Nevada Independent reported that a female lobbyist had received persistent and unwanted advances from Kihuen, through hundreds of text messages, and was also touched without her consent.

Top congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Ben Ray Luján, have called on Kihuen to resign.He has refused, saying the DCCC and Pelosi were aware of the first accuser’s allegations when he was running for Congress last year. The woman said she informed a midlevel DCCC staffer. Pelosi and Luján have said through spokespeople that they were not aware.

Kihuen announced on Saturday he would not seek re-election in 2018. He maintained his innocence in his retirement announcement.

“The allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign,” Kihuen said. “Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection,” he said.

The woman, who has given only her first name to reporters, indicated she wishes Kihuen would resign instead of retiring at the end of his term.

“Well, I mean as an American taxpayer, his salary is paid for by American taxpayers,” she told a local CBS News affiliate in Las Vegas. “I’m not really comfortable with the fact that my tax money is paying for his salary.”

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