The head of the House Democrats’ campaign committee called on first-term Rep. Ruben Kihuan of Nevada to step down Friday over a report that Kihuan sexually harassed his campaign’s finance director.
BuzzFeed News reported that Kihuen is alleged to have repeatedly made sexual advances toward the aide during his successful 2016 congressional campaign.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said House members and candidates should be held to the highest standard, and anyone guilty of sexual harassment or assault should not hold elected office. He added in a statement Friday, “Congressman Kihuen should resign.”
Kihuen’s said in a statement that the aide was a valued member of his team. “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,” Kihuen said. “But I want to make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances she described.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., called for a “full, fair and expedient investigation against Congressman Kihuen and any other member of Congress who have women or men come forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior.”
“This process must be open, transparent and have an appropriate investigatory timeline that delivers justice,” she said.
In the BuzzFeed report, the woman, identified only as Samantha, said Kihuen propositioned her for dates and sex despite her repeated rejections. On two occasions, she said, he touched her thighs without consent.
Kihuen gave no indication in the statement that he would follow Lujan’s admonition.
“I have spent my fifteen years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so,” the congressman said.
Congressional leaders are under pressure to respond to a national outcry against sexual harassment. The allegations against Kihuen come after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was accused of sexually harassing members of his staff and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was accused of inappropriate touching.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called on Conyers to resign. His lawyer, Arnold Reed, said Friday the congressman, the longest-serving member of the House, will discuss in the next few days whether to resign, but his health will be the paramount factor and not pressure from Washington politicians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.