Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) exhibited mounting frustration Wednesday with the inaction on Capitol Hill in light of the recent sexual allegations. She has called for the resignation of both Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and even walked out of the House Democrats’ morning conference meeting saying harassment wasn’t being addressed seriously. “I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real,” she told reporters.
Rep. Kathleen Rice leaves House Dem meeting early, saying harassment wasn’t being addressed seriously. “I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real.” pic.twitter.com/hoB6lAmBqX— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 29, 2017
Rice asked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Wednesday to release one of Conyers’s accusers from her confidentiality agreement which was part of a $27,000 settlement in 2015.
Rice argues that since the accuser “attempted to seek help through a deeply flawed system” she “should not continue to be silenced by the institution that failed to protect her in the first place.”
“Under the settlement, the complainant was forced into a non-disclosure agreement and has been unable to openly discuss the workplace harassment and abuse she was subjected to,” Rep. Rice writes, “while Rep. Conyers and his attorney, Arnold Reed, have been free to make their case to the public.”
“Three additional women (Maria Reddick, Melanie Sloan, and Deanna Maher) have been able to speak publicly about harassment by Rep. Conyers because they chose not to pursue a complaint through a system that is now universally acknowledged to be stacked against the victim,” she added.
“Mr. Reed has made clear his client will not release the former employee from the agreement, and it is unclear whether the Office of Compliance, the House Ethics Committee, House Employment Counsel, or some combination of the three has the authority to do so,” Rice concludes. “As Speaker of the House, I urge you to immediately intervene to right this wrong. The woman named in the settlement agreement with Rep. Conyers deserves the opportunity to tell her story and I ask you to swiftly intercede on her behalf.”
Speaker Ryan and prominent GOP leaders held a press conference Wednesday addressing the issue of sexual harassment and announcing an upcoming vote on a resolution that requires mandatory training for members, staff, and interns on appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
"Sexual harassment has no place in any workplace -- let alone the United States Congress," Ryan said.