It didn’t take long into Representative Ruben Kihuen’s Congressional career to hear calls for his resignation. The Nevada Democrat was just sworn in this January, but he might not even make it a full year on Capitol Hill after his former campaign finance director told Buzzfeed that she quit her job because of his repetitive sexual harassment.
The woman, who is only being named as Samantha, began working early in the campaign. Her tenure began in December 2015. In February, she claims the sexual harassment began. Suddenly the 35-year-old who was plotting his way to unseat Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy was repeatedly asking the 25-year-old staffer out on dates and for sex despite her constant objections. He even went so far as to touch her thighs on at least two occasions.
Samantha’s accusations have a trail that leads right to the DCCC, which she informed during Kihuen’s primary. The Democrats talk loudly about fighting for women, but they turned their backs on a woman who was being harassed by one of their rising stars just last year.
While Samantha was uncertain how she could report her experience, she said she spoke with a contact at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to explain why she was quitting so abruptly, and told the staffer that Kihuen had done things that made her uncomfortable.
“I didn’t know what they could do, but I felt like I had to let someone know,” she said.
The person she spoke with at the DCCC, a midlevel staffer who no longer works there, confirmed a conversation took place. He said he did not recall her telling him any specifics, only that she quit because she felt uncomfortable with Kihuen, and he did not believe that she wanted the DCCC to escalate it. He spoke only with a colleague — another midlevel staffer who is also no longer there — about the call.
Because the race was, at that point, still in the primaries, the DCCC had limited involvement in Kihuen’s campaign. But the second staffer informed Kihuen’s campaign manager, Dave Chase, of Samantha’s call after she had left the campaign. Chase confirmed to BuzzFeed News that someone at the DCCC called to say that the woman had quit because she felt “uncomfortable” around Kihuen, but he was not aware of the specifics of the allegations. He says he confronted Kihuen, who denied that anything improper had occurred.
The DCCC was aware of this man’s actions before he even was elected, but they did not put up a roadblock to stop him. Instead, they focused on the fact that Kihuen was prepared to unseat a sitting Republican member of Congress. The object of his harassment was out of a job, but the Democrats were busy flipping a House seat.
The fact that Samatha reported these egregious actions to the DCCC at the time has put Nancy Pelosi in the unusual position of calling for the resignation of the freshmen Nevada Congressman. Her words were much more forceful than her initial placating of John Conyers by calling him an “icon” and demanding due process when his sexual harassment allegations were exposed to the American public.
Rep Nancy Pelosi D-CA calls for resignation of Rep Ruben Kihuen D-NV over sexual misconduct allegations pic.twitter.com/fN3cOkEyo7
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 2, 2017
That’s got to sting. In light of these accusations and the DCCC’s prior knowledge of them, Nancy tossed Kihuen to the wolves in just a matter of hours.
One important question remains. Why did the DCCC do nothing to help Samantha in this situation? This passivity and ignorance have now also caused a problem for Pelosi’s caucus and the people in Kihuen’s district. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) should be forced to explain why they prioritized politics over the well-being of this woman.