John Conyers will reportedly announce his retirement today — maybe, about which more in a moment. If he is, retirement’s not coming a bit too soon. Another former staffer has come forward to corroborate the allegations made by Marion Brown in a now-infamous settlement exposed by Buzzfeed last month, and add a few of her own. Elisa Grubbs accuses the 27-term congressman of groping her, too … while in church.
Another former staff employee of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, came forward late Monday to publicly accuse the congressman of sexual harassment, saying he once slid his hand up her skirt in church.
Attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing Marion Brown, the former staffer who first accused Conyers, 88, of sexual harassment, on Monday night made public on Twitter an affidavit from Elisa Grubbs making many of the same accusations. …
She said in the affidavit she saw Conyers groping and stroking Brown’s legs and the legs of other women in the office and that she saw Brown shortly after an alleged event in Chicago in 2005 where Brown said Conyers’ propositioned her in a hotel room. In the affidavit, Grubbs said Brown told her, “That SOB just wanted me to have sex with him.”
She also said she was sitting next to him at church on another occasion when he ran his hand under her skirt and said other people saw him do it.
Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed, who has gone on the offensive the past few days against accusers, told the Detroit Free Press that Grubbs and Brown are related in an attempt to paint the new accusation as a conspiracy to undermine Conyers. It’s a bit unclear as to what that would produce for either of the accusers, though. Brown already settled her claims, and at least for now Grubbs hasn’t filed any — although hiring a media-savvy attorney certainly hints a complaint will be forthcoming.
Give Reed credit for a good line, however. He noted that the attorney for both, Lisa Bloom, has her own credibility issues. He called Grubbs’ statement “another instance of tomfoolery from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein’s attorney,” a reminder that Bloom has been accused of some dirty tricks in the recent past. It again prompts the question as to why these women sought out Bloom at all.
That, however, doesn’t really qualify as a primary concern, or even a tertiary issue at this point. The big question is whether Conyers will step down. According to his grandnephew, Michigan state senator Ian Conyers, the congressman will call it quits after 54 years in Washington after the 2018 elections:
Representative John Conyers Jr., who faces allegations that he sexually harassed former employees, plans to announce Tuesday that he will not seek re-election, according to a family member who now plans to run for his seat.
Mr. Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, will make the announcement by calling into a local radio show on Tuesday morning, Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, said in a phone interview early Tuesday. …
“He is not resigning. He is going to retire,” the younger Mr. Conyers said. “His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health.”
Congress without a Conyers? Perhaps we should all go to church and prey — excuse me, pray. Or maybe we won’t have to worry about it after all:
Ian Conyers, 29, the grandson of Mr. Conyers’s brother, said he now planned to run for the seat held by his 88-year-old great-uncle, a Democrat who represents the Detroit area.
Something tells me that the Conyers name won’t be quite as golden in Detroit after this. Michigans 13th congressional district is D+32 in the Cook index, so whichever Democrat wins the nomination will get the seat. Had the Brown settlement remained quiet, Conyers could have easily passed the seat to his grandnephew, but perhaps this scandal will prompt some other candidates to come forward to challenge the family for its claim on power in Detroit. A cleanup is clearly long overdue.
That’s if Conyers really is retiring. Reed says to stay tuned, and to stop listening to Conyers The Younger:
The congressman will make his decision this morning consistent with my previous statements. I'm not responding to rumor and innuendo regarding Ian Conyers. I have not spoken to Ian Conyers and no one is aware of the congressman's plans except he and I and his wife
— Arnold E. Reed (@arnoldreedlaw) December 5, 2017
It’s not unusual for heirs apparent to push the reigning monarch off the throne, but a failure on that effort doesn’t look good for one’s future.
Update: It’s time to play … The Family Feud!
Conyers did announce his retirement, but he’s endorsing his own son over his brother’s grandson:
BREAKING: @RepJohnConyers endorses his son, John Conyers III, to succeed him in Congress during radio interview in Detroit.
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) December 5, 2017
Perhaps Detroit voters will take a hint and send the whole Conyers family into obscurity.
Update: The early reports weren’t clear on this, but NPR says Conyers is actually resigning immediately rather than retiring at the end of his term:
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said he will step down from Congress as of Tuesday, amid allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by multiple women.
Conyers told a Detroit radio show this morning that “I am retiring today,” though he is effectively resigning. He also said in an interview on The Mildred Gaddis Show that he wants his son, John Conyers III to succeed him in Congress. “My legacy will continue through my children,” Conyers said.
Michigan law says it’s up to the governor to call a special election to fill the seat.
If it produces a Conyers-on-Conyers primary, this special election will be extra special. Perhaps that will split the Conyers constituency enough in this district to allow another Democrat to sneak past the post and end the family’s dominance in Detroit.