DC Dems Dump Top Groper Suspects Conyers, Franken, GOPers Stay Loyal

U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the longest serving member of Congress, resigned this week under sexual harassment allegations and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken was pressured to do the same in a resignation confirmed Thursday.

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At least 32 Democratic colleagues signed statements Dec. 6 urging Franken to resign following multiple claims that he had harassed them years ago, primarily when he was an entertainer before his 2008 election to the Senate, where he has been reliable liberal voter.

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Meanwhile, President Trump and the Republican National Committee ramped up their support for Alabama's embattled GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore in the special election scheduled next Tuesday for one of the state's two seats.

A New York Daily News front page story headlined "I'm With Perv" on Dec. 4 mocked Trump's decision to back Moore over Democrat Doug Jones despite multiple allegations from women that Moore had sought to date or molest them while they were in their teens and he was in his thirties and working as a state prosecutor.

Allegations against Conyers, 88, included claims that he forced himself upon staffers during a career that began with his election to Congress in 1964 in a district representing part of Detroit. Earlier this week, he issued a statement from a hospital room, reportedly being treated for stress, saying that he was resigning.

Republicans and their sympathizers had mounted a campaign against Conyers and Franken following the Moore revelations. As part of the Justice Integrity Project's coverage, this editor attended a news conference last week at the National Press Club featuring several accusers of former President Bill Clinton who called for renewed investigations of his conduct during the 1990s and the removal of Conyers and Franken from their current posts. 

roger stone clintons coverThe news conference was organized by a start-up group called the Media Equality Project run by conservatives Melanie Morgan and Brian Maloney. It featured longtime Clinton accuser Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broderick and the lesser known Leslie Millwee, who said Clinton made gross and otherwise improper advances while he was governor and she was a 19-year-old television reporter for a station in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

In response to my question about allegations panelists made in the 2016 book The Clintons War on Women by Roger Stone and Rob Morrow, none of the panelists disputed the book's accounts of their previous statements.

More generally, organizers of the conference said their focus was on sitting members of Congress, and thus emphasized removal of Conyers and Franken, and not questions about such Republicans as Moore and President Trump.

blake farenthold oRecent news reports and commentaries about the allegations against Conyers, Franken and Moore are sampled below, with the news excerpts arranged in reverse chronological order. They include also claims against President Trump and two other Republicans, GOP Texas congerssmen Joe Barton and Blake Farenthold (shown at right).

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Related News Coverage

Al Franken

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al franken

Washington Post, As calls grow for Franken to resign, senator is set to make announcement about his future, Elise Viebeck, Ed O'Keefe and Karen Tumulty, Dec. 7, 2017. A majority of Senate Democrats said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should step aside after determining that they could no longer tolerate his presence in their midst as a growing number of women accused him of sexual harassment. But Franken’s office disputed a report that the senator plans to resign.

They turned on one of their party’s most popular figures with stunning swiftness, led by the Senate’s Democratic women, who were joined in short order by more than half of the Democratic caucus.

“Enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable. We as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard, and we should fundamentally be valuing women. That is where this debate has to go.”

Franken’s office said he would make an announcement about his future on Thursday. Minnesota Public Radio reported Wednesday afternoon that Franken planned to resign, but Franken’s office quickly denied it on Twitter. “Not accurate,” the tweet stated. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family.”

 U.S. Rep. John Conyers

john conyers press clubRoll Call, The Race to Replace John Conyers, Simone Pathé, Dec. 5, 2017. Retirement of longest-serving member will spark crowded Democratic primary. Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. (shown in a file photo) endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him Tuesday after announcing he’s retiring from Congress. First elected in 1964, Conyers is the longest-serving current member of the House.

Alabama U.S. Senate Candidate Roy Moore

roy moore senate campaign robe Custom 2Washington Examiner, Court records suggest Roy Moore dated wife while she was still married, Gabby Morrongiello, Emily Jashinsky and Philip Wegmann, Dec. 5, 2017. Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore's account of when he began dating his wife Kayla would place the start of their courtship before her divorce from her first husband, according to court documents.

This comes as the Moore campaign's defense of the retired judge against multiple allegations of sexual misconduct hinges on disputing minute details of the accusers' versions of events.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Examiner asked Moore's campaign to explain apparent contradictions between his account of his relationship with Kayla Kisor and information contained in public records.

“Regardless of when they met, Judge and Kayla did not date while she was still with her ex-husband or legally married,” campaign spokesman Brett Doster responded by email.

Moore claims in his 2005 book So Help Me God to have met Kayla at a church gathering the week before Christmas in 1984.

Divorce records obtained by the Washington Examiner show that Kayla, however, had not yet even filed for divorce from her first husband, John Charles Heald, by the time she caught Moore’s attention at the Christmas gathering. In fact, Kayla and Heald had only just separated on Dec. 1, 1984, two weeks before her and Moore’s serendipitous introduction.

The same records show Kayla filed for divorce at a courthouse in Floyd County, Ga., on Dec. 28, 1984. The divorce was finalized nearly four months later on April 19, and a permanent custody judgment was issued on Jan. 9, 1989.  djt roy moore daily news Custom

The New York Daily News front-paged the story, as shown above

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Washington Post, Trump offers his most explicit endorsement to date of Roy Moore in Alabama race, Philip Rucker, Dec. 4, 2017. “We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” the president tweeted, leaving no question that he was supporting a Senate nominee that many other Republican leaders have repudiated and called upon to quit the race.

Roll Call, RNC Reverses Course, Backs Roy Moore After Pulling Support, Bridget Bowman, Dec. 4, 2017. National party changes position following Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Republican.  The Republican National Committee is reversing course and once again backing Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, after initially pulling its support following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

New Veracity, Teen Dating Evidence Against Alabama's Roy Moore

debbie wesson gibson

Debbie Wesson Gibson, shown at high school graduation in Alabama

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Washington Post, Woman shares new evidence of relationship with Roy Moore when she was 17, Stephanie McCrummen, Dec. 4, 2017. Debbie Wesson Gibson, who says she dated Roy Moore in 1981, recently found a high school graduation card she says he gave her at the time and inscribed to her. Moore, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, said in a campaign appearance last week, “I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

roy moore cowboy hat no gunDebbie Wesson Gibson was in her attic hauling out boxes of Christmas decorations last week when she noticed a storage bin she said she had forgotten about. Inside was a scrapbook from her senior year of high school, and taped to a page titled “Those Who Inspire” was a graduation card.

“Happy graduation Debbie,” it read in slanted cursive handwriting. “I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you’ll be a success in anything you do. Roy.”

The inscription, Gibson said, was written by Roy Moore (shown in a campaign file photo), the Alabama Republican nominee for U.S. Senate who in recent days has repeatedly denied the accounts of five women who told The Washington Post that he pursued them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.

roy moore 8 accusers CustomSince those allegations were published last month, four more women have come forward to allege that Moore made unwanted sexual advances.

The accounts in The Post included those of Leigh Corfman, who said she was 14 when Moore touched her sexually, and Gibson, who said that she publicly dated Moore when she was 17 and he was 34, a relationship she said she “wore like a badge of honor” until she began reevaluating it in light of the accounts of other women, and now, Moore’s own denials.

Shortly after the allegations first surfaced, Moore said in a radio interview with Sean Hannity that he did not know Corfman, but that he remembered Gibson as well as Gloria Thacker Deason, who had told The Post that she dated Moore when she was 18. He called each one “a good girl,” and said that he did not remember dating them.

But at two campaign events in recent days, Moore has backtracked.

At a Nov. 27 campaign event in the north Alabama town of Henagar, Moore said, “The allegations are completely false. They are malicious. Specifically, I do not know any of these women.”

At a Nov. 29 rally at a church in the south Alabama town of Theodore, Moore said, “Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

debbie wesson gibson hillary clinton rallyGibson (who identifies herself as a Republican who work in educational services) now said that after finding the scrapbook, she was not sure whether to make it public given the threats she received after publication of the original story.

Then she heard what Moore said last week, she said, and contacted The Post. Gibson is shown in a file photo providing sign interpretation at a Hillary Clinton campaign speech.

Legal Schnauzer, Roy Moore supporters scuttled Bill Pryor's chances for SCOTUS seat, but new report doesn't tell full story about Pryor's ties to badpuppy.com and gay porn, Roger Shuler, Dec. 5, 2017  Roy Moore supporters helped stick a fork in Bill Pryor's chances for a U.S. Supreme Court seat earlier this year by arguing Pryor too often sided with gay interests, according to a report at a conservative news/propaganda site. A prominent Alabama whistle blower and opposition researcher suggests the site, Yellowhammer News (YH), isn't telling the whole story.

Quin Hilyer, author of the YH article, takes Democrat Doug Jones to task for a recent ad hinting that Moore, while chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, went easy on child sexual abusers because -- as reported in a string of investigative articles connected to the Moore v. Jones U.S. Senate special election (set for Dec. 12) -- Moore himself is a child sexual abuser.

Hilyer decries Jones' attack on Roy Moore, just as he finds Moore's earlier attack on Bill Pryor to be unseemly. But Hilyer does not complete the circle with the Pryor story and essentially sets up a false equivalency. Siegelman-case whistle blower Jill Simpson, in a post at her Facebook page, is more than happy to complete the circle that allegedly torpedoed Pryor's SCOTUS hopes.

 In so doing, she raises the likelihood that -- regardless of what Roy Moore supporters might have done -- the genesis of the Pryor implosion rests with our reporting at Legal Schnauzer on the judge's ties to 1990's gay pornography. In fact, Simpson adds some fascinating history about the Pryor gay-porn photos, which are connected to a couple of Montgomery lawyers -- one on the right and one on the left.

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Washington Post, How Jimmy Kimmel’s operative ruined Roy Moore’s rally, Avi Selk, Dec. 4, 2017. What Roy Moore hoped to do inside Magnolia Springs Baptist Church, as the Associated Press saw it, was put the drama behind him.

roy moore senate campaign robe Custom 2He wanted to get away from the accusations that have entangled his Senate campaign — that he preyed on teen girls as a younger man — and get back to the Christian-infused politics that had made him a popular judge-turned-candidate in Alabama.

And he wanted to do it with a half-hour speech, written especially for an intimate crowd of worshipers at a small-town church outside Mobile on a Wednesday night.

 

 

Other Sexual Assault and Harassment Claims

Donald Trump, Arianne Zucker, Billy Bush via "Access Hollywood" screenshot

Then entertainment and business figure Donald Trump, Arianne Zucker, Billy Bush via "Access Hollywood" screenshot

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New York Times, Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That, Billy Bush, Dec. 4, 2017 (print edition). The president is currently engaging in some revisionist history.

He said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.” Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

We now know better. Recently I sat down and read an article dating from October of 2016; it was published days after my departure from NBC, a time when I wasn’t processing anything productively. In it, the author reviewed the various firsthand accounts about Mr. Trump that, at that point, had come from 20 women.

Some of what Natasha Stoynoff, Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Jill Harth alleged involved forceful kissing. Ms. Harth said he pushed her up against a wall, with his hands all over her, trying to kiss her.

“He was relentless,” she said. “I didn’t know how to handle it.” Her story makes the whole “better use some Tic Tacs” and “just start kissing them” routine real. I believe her.

Kristin Anderson said that Mr. Trump reached under her skirt and “touched her vagina through her underwear” while they were at a New York nightclub in the 1990s. That makes the “grab ’em by the pussy” routine real. I believe her.

President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me.

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Washiington Post, Trump may face a reckoning in case brought by former ‘Apprentice’ contestant, Frances Stead Sellers​, Dec. 4, 2017. If a defamation case proceeds to trial, attorneys for Summer Zervos, who had been a contestant on the reality show, could gather and make public incidents from Trump’s past, and the president could be called to testify, with the unwelcome specter of a former president looming over him: Bill Clinton.

blake farenthold crush girls abyss club

lauren greeneThe married Rpublican Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, in the duck pajamas at right, frolicked with models from "The Crush Girls" agency at the Corpus Christi nightclub Abyss shortly before his first election

Politico, A congressman's accuser: Blackballed and babysitting for cash, Rachal Bade, Dec. 4, 2017. North Carolina native Lauren Greene (shown at right) aspired to a career in politics when she arrived on Capitol Hill as an intern in 2009. She spent the next five years climbing the Capitol Hill ladder, ultimately becoming a communications director for a congressman in 2014.

But Greene’s budding career imploded, she said, the minute she accused Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) of sexually harassing her.

Since the summer of 2014, when she says Farenthold (shown below in an official photo) fired her for raising concerns about a hostile work environment, Greene has been unable to land a full-time job. She’s making $15 an hour working temporary gigs for a homebuilder. She babysits on the side to earn extra cash.

Her family has had to support her financially. And Greene, now 30, has left D.C., with no illusions that she will ever work in politics again.

blake farenthold o“It’s definitely turned my life upside down,” Greene said in her first interview since she made the accusations against Farenthold. “It’s been a tough road. Emotionally, it was tough. Professionally, it’s been hard to figure out next steps. And it’s definitely had an impact on my career.”

While the nation has overwhelmingly embraced and supported victims of sexual harassment who’ve spoken out since Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, many victims in congressional offices are loath to come forward, figuring doing so will dash their hopes of careers in politics.

Greene did, and she says she’s paid a heavy price. Her one comfort, however, is her firm belief that she did the right thing. The Daily Mail reported on her allegations in 2014: Drunken Congressman 'flirted with women, talked about a threesome and said an aide could show her nipples whenever she wanted to,' claims ex-staffer in lawsuit by Francesca Chambers, Dec. 16, 2014:

Republican lawmaker Blake Farenthold's former communications alleges that the congressman sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. The former aide says the married congressman had 'sexual fantasies' and 'wet dreams' about her, according to his personal assistant. The ex-staffer claims she was fired in July after she brought her concerns about her 'hostile work environment' to her boss.  Farenthold also made headlines this week after a Twitter user discovered that he owns the domain name blow-me.org.

bill oreilly 2010New York Times, Bill O’Reilly Accuser Sues, Saying He Violated Settlement, Emily Steel, Dec. 4, 2017. Mr. O’Reilly (shown in a file photo) has said harassment allegations that led to his ouster at Fox News have no merit. One woman says that violates the conditions of their settlement, and is suing for defamation and breach of contract.

 

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New York Times, Taxpayers Paid $84,000 to End Sex Harassment Claim Against Texas Lawmaker, Yamiche Alcindor and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Dec. 1, 2017, Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of the Corpus Christi section Texas (shown at right and below left at a party), used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim, one of six settlements for workplace issues ranging from veteran status discrimination to age bias that were paid out by a secretive congressional office since 2013.

 blake farenthold with bunny customThe six settlements for malfeasance in House offices totaled $359,450.

Details of the settlements emerged Friday after Congress’s Office of Compliance answered demands for information from the Committee on House Administration, part of an extensive review of sexual harassment and discrimination in congressional offices.

The sexual harassment and indiscretion scandals that had already ensnared Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, and Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, pulled in two more lawmakers, Mr. Farenthold and Representative Ruben Kihuen, Democrat of Nevada.

A former finance director of Mr. Kihuen’s congressional campaign told Buzzfeed News that the up-and-coming young Democrat repeatedly propositioned her for sex and touched her inappropriately until she abruptly quit the campaign.

 

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Washington Post, Congressman told woman he would alert police if she exposed his sex life, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 23, 2017 (print edition. The woman who spoke to The Post shared a secretly recorded conversation she had on the phone with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) about sexually explicit material he sent her. In the chat, he warned her against using the material “in a way that would negatively affect my career.”

Joe BartonRelated story: Texas Tribune, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton apologizes for graphic online photo, Abby Livingston, Nov. 22, 2017. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis (shown at right), released a statement Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week. He announced his re-election bid earlier this month. "While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.