Conyers, 88, is the longest-serving of member of Congress and the longest-serving Black Congressperson in history; he has represented a district that includes Detroit for 52 years. His resignation comes on the heels of him stepping down as the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on the Judiciary just before Thanksgiving.
Conyers announced his resignation during an interview on The Mildred Gaddis Show yesterday (December 5), which he reportedly conducted from a hospital bed. Conyers was hospitalized for reasons that his attorney “assumed” were “stress related” on November 29. The announcement comes at the four-minute mark.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This too shall pass,” he said. “My legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here, and especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III, who incidentally, I endorse to replace me in my seat in congress.”
He went on to say, “I am retiring today,” and he maintained that the allegations “are not accurate, they’re not true” and that he can’t explain where they came from.
His resignation was effective immediately. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) announced it on the House floor yesterday.
Rep. @JacksonLeeTX18: “A few minutes ago in Detroit, the Dean of the United States Congress offered his retirement immediately. He has asked me, a member of the Judiciary Committee, to offer his words to his colleagues.” https://t.co/vC3WYtA7bX pic.twitter.com/f6olgdA70g— CSPAN (@cspan) December 5, 2017
The Detroit Press reports that John Conyers III, 27, isn’t the only one seeking to replace the long-time legislator. The representative’s great-nephew, Ian Conyers, is planning to run for the seat in a special election. He currently serves as a Michigan state senator. Conyers III has never held an elected office, and his father was forced to reimburse the United States Department of the Treasury in 2010 when he misused a government-issued car.
Conyers has been accused of sexually harassing staffers and using government funds to settle a lawsuit with a woman who said she was fired for rejecting his advances.
As The New York Times notes, there are several members of Congress who are currently facing sexual misconduct allegations, including Joe Barton (R-Texas), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Representative James Clyburn (D-S.C.) commented on the pressure that was put on the Black Congressperson to resign yesterday while talking to press. “I’m a little bit interested in why the speaker of the House called for his resignation and has been radio silent on Blake Farenthold, a settlement that was three times Conyers’ was,” Clyburn said, per McClatchy. “He’s accused of the same thing Conyers was accused of…and the speaker has not said a word. What is the difference?”