After being accused of sexual harassment by a former campaign staffer, congressman Ruben Kihuen — Nevada’s first Latino member of the U.S. House — refuses to step down.
“I’m not resigning. I’m definitely not resigning,” he told CNN when asked about his midterm election plans for next year. “That’s all I can tell you for now,” he said.
Amid the allegations, the Nevada Democrat faces calls from politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to resign. “In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward.”
The campaign staffer who came forward told BuzzFeed earlier this month that Kihuen approached her romantically and sexually on several occasions, and touched her thighs twice without her permission during his 2016 congressional campaign.
Kihuen immediately denied the claims, releasing a statement from his congressional office on Dec. 1. “The staff member in question was a valued member of my team,” the statement reads. “I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable. I take this matter seriously as it is not indicative of who I am. I was raised in a strong family that taught me to treat women with the utmost dignity and respect. I have spent my fifteen years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so.”
Other politicians who’ve faced sexual harassment allegations recently include fellow Democrats Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, who have both stepped down.