A freshman Democratic congressman said Tuesday that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi knew last year about sexual harassment allegations against him by a former campaign worker, but continued to campaign for him regardless.
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., was accused by his former campaign finance director of touching her inappropriately and pressuring her for dates and sex despite her rejections. The woman, identified only as Samantha, went public with her claims in an article published by BuzzFeed last week.
On Saturday, Pelosi said she found the woman’s claims against Kihuen convincing and called on the 37-year-old lawmaker to resign. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. and the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), also had pressed for Kihuen’s resignation, saying House members and candidates should be held to the highest standard, and anyone guilty of sexual harassment or assault should not hold elected office.
But in an interview with ABC News, Kihuen said Pelosi and Lujan knew about Samantha’s allegations last year.
“They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign,” said Kihuen, who unseated incumbent Republican Cresent Hardy in last November’s election. “They went out there and campaigned for me.”
Representatives for Pelosi and Lujan denied Kihuen’s claims in separate statements to ABC News. The network reported that the DCCC had spent more than $3 million to help Kihuen’s campaign.
Over the weekend, Kihuen said he did not remember the incidents as described by Samantha and vowed that he would not step down.
Kihuen spoke out against Pelosi on the same day that Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced that he would “retire today” amid allegations of sexual harassment by former members of his staff. Pelosi had called on Conyers to resign over the allegations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.