Month: December 2017

Nevada Democrat Ruben Kihuen Won’t Seek Reelection After Sexual Harassment Allegations

Mike Segar / Reuters

Nevada Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen announced Saturday that he would not seek reelection amid sexual harassment allegations from his former campaign finance director.

In early December, BuzzFeed News first reported the allegations of the former staffer, who said Kihuen repeatedly harassed and made sexual advances toward her last year during his campaign, leading her to quit after only a few months on the job.

A second woman then told the Nevada Independent earlier this week that Kihuen had repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward her when she was a lobbyist and he was a state senator.

“I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question,” Kihuen said in a statement on Saturday. “I am committed to fully cooperating with the House Ethics Committee and I look forward to clearing my name.”

“However, the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign,” he said. “Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection.”

In the aftermath of the BuzzFeed News report, there had been swift calls for the freshman Democrat to step down: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján called for his resignation when presented with the details of the article and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Kihuen should resign several hours later, but he refused to do so.

Kihuen’s decision not to seek reelection comes less than two weeks after Rep. John Conyers, the longest serving member of Congress, resigned over sexual harassment allegations first revealed by BuzzFeed News.

The Nevada Democrat was elected to Congress last November and is a longtime protégé of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Kihuen is a DREAMer and often talked about his immigrant experience on the campaign trail and in Congress, pushing for legislation to protect those, like himself, who were brought to the US illegally as children. The subject was also central to his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Before entering Congress, Kihuen spent a decade in the Nevada legislature.

Kihuen’s former campaign finance director, Samantha (whose last name BuzzFeed News withheld), alleged that Kihuen propositioned her for dates and sex despite repeated rejections. She said he touched her thighs twice without consent.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News for the initial story, Kihuen said:

The staff member in question was a valued member of my 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. 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.

Later the same day, Kihuen’s office sent out a new statement adding that he wanted to “make it clear that I don’t recall any of the circumstances.” His office didn’t respond to a BuzzFeed News inquiry asking whether he denied the events occurred as described.

Dozens who have been around Kihuen over the years described to BuzzFeed News a pattern of behavior from him that was teetering on the brink of misconduct. In interviews with at least 30 men and women who have worked in Nevada politics in Carson City and in Las Vegas, Kihuen was repeatedly described as a “playboy” whose reputation for constantly pursuing and flirting with young women was an “open secret.”

One former Nevada State Assembly intern said, in settings with alcohol, she routinely saw Kihuen making inappropriate jokes and at times giving unwanted, long hugs and touches.

“Ruben tends to be very touchy-feely and flirtatious to begin with,” the intern said. “The more you just let it go, the farther along he gets.”

Kihuen’s full statement:

Nothing is more important to me than my family and serving my constituents. It is the greatest honor of my life to represent Nevada’s Fourth District as a Member of the United States House of Representatives.

The support and encouragement of my constituents provides me with the strength and guidance to represent Nevada to the best of my abilities.

I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question. I am committed to fully cooperating with the House Ethics Committee and I look forward to clearing my name.

Due process and the presumption of innocence are bedrock legal principles which have guided our nation for centuries, and they should not be lost to unsubstantiated hearsay and innuendo.

However, the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign. Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection.

LINK: A Member Of Congress Accused Of Harassment Is Refusing to Resign. Frustrated Democrats Can’t Make Him.

People Are Thanking Black Women On Twitter For Helping To Defeat Roy Moore In Alabama

“What, 63 years since Rosa Parks got arrested in Montgomery and black women are still shutting down racist assholes in Alabama.”

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Via instagram.com

Black residents make up 26.8% of Alabama’s population, according to US Census data, and often vote for Democrats. And voter turnout during Tuesday’s election was high.

“Trust black women, trust a real investment of resources, and trust excellent organizing,” Symone Sanders, Priorities USA strategist, told BuzzFeed News.

The night before the election, Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife, had defended her husband against people who said he was racist.

“We have many friends that are black, and we also fellowship with them in church and in our home,” she said at a campaign rally.

For his own part, Jones has pointed many times to his record of helping black residents, often pointing to when he was a federal prosecutor in the infamous 1963 bombing of the predominantly black 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, pursuing a case against two members of the Ku Klux Klan.

LINK: Donald Trump’s Playbook Couldn’t Save Roy Moore

LINK: Democrats Just Scored A Historic Win In Alabama

Here’s What You Need To Know About Today’s Election Between Roy Moore And Doug Jones

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Republicans should have had an easy time winning an Alabama Senate seat — but they really could lose Tuesday as the state’s wild, extraordinary race comes to an end.

Voters will decide between GOP nominee Roy Moore, a right-wing culture warrior and the state’s former chief justice, and Democrat Doug Jones, a former US attorney known for successfully prosecuting two members of the Ku Klux Klan for a bombing that killed four black children. The winner gets the seat previously held by Jeff Sessions, who joined the Trump administration as attorney general this year.

In the closing weeks, the race has been rocked by allegations that Moore, as an adult, made sexual advances on a minor, sexually assaulted a 16-year-old, and pursued romantic relationships with other teens. Moore has denied the allegations. But the scandal alarmed many national Republicans: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee disavowed him and have raised the possibility of expulsion should Moore win. And national Democrats, who were already intrigued by their chances against a wild card such as Moore, have sensed an opportunity to pick up a seat in the kind of Deep South state they generally write off and narrow the GOP’s 52-seat edge in the Senate.

Jones

Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

“I didn’t vote for Roy Moore,” Sen. Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who will serve alongside the winner, said Sunday morning during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”

Even without the misconduct accusations, the Senate race would have been a national spectacle because of the perpetually controversial Moore. He was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, first over his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument on public grounds, and again when he refused to enforce federal rulings on marriage equality. He also is known for his far-right positions on gay rights (he once said homosexuality should be illegal) and for his opinion that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.

But even after the allegations, Republicans did not totally abandon Moore. President Donald Trump, whose victory last year despite late-breaking accusations of sexual misconduct has served somewhat as a template for Moore, offered unequivocal endorsements for the candidate over the last week. Trump also used a political rally Friday in Pensacola, Florida — a media market that reaches Alabama voters — to plug Moore’s candidacy. The Republican National Committee, which had briefly withdrawn its financial support, followed Trump’s lead and resumed its assistance in the last week of the race.

Jones has enjoyed a significant money advantage, thanks to his own fundraising efforts and to expenditures by allied groups. But in a state where Trump won 63% of the vote in 2016, piecing together a winning coalition for a Democrat is still a tricky affair. Jones needs Democrats to turn out in droves, and he also needs to win some Republican voters disenchanted with Moore and hope that some Republicans just stay home.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Democratic cavalry arrived in the campaign’s final weekend to help Jones with the first part: Jones spent the weekend campaigning in Democratic areas up and down the state with prominent black Democrats, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s lone Democratic member of Congress. Former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden recorded robocalls for the Democrat that began running Monday, the AP reported. At each of his stops over the weekend, Jones made a point of quoting Shelby’s attacks on Moore.

Moore, meanwhile, disappeared from the campaign trail over the weekend, and his team was sketchy about reports that he was in Philadelphia for the Army–Navy football game. Wherever he was, he held no public events until Monday night and skipped his hometown church service. (On Monday night, Moore confirmed he was out of the state over the weekend, “to take my wife out of the mess and let her relax with her son at West Point.”)

Moore

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Moore’s absence from the trail became a regular point in Jones’ stump speech as the campaign closed out. “Y’all have covered politics for a long time. When is the last time you heard of a candidate for statewide office leaving the state?” he asked reporters at a Birmingham diner Monday morning. “It only goes to show that he cares more about his personal agenda than he does the people of Alabama.”

Moore resurfaced Monday night for a rally headlined by Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News executive and erstwhile Trump strategist who has fully embraced his candidacy and appeared with him three times. The first came on the eve of a primary runoff battle between Moore and Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed as Sessions’ interim successor. Strange lost that race despite heavy backing from McConnell and the GOP establishment, and even from Trump.

Trump’s presence in the campaign looms large. He won Alabama last year by a commanding margin and remains popular in the state. The president’s initial embrace of Strange puzzled many, given Moore’s anti-establishment rhetoric — his primary eve rally with Bannon was a “Drain the Swamp Rally,” a theme ripped straight out of Trump’s 2016 playbook.

The rally had no shortage of odd moments. One of the speakers was a Vietnam veteran who served with Moore but hadn’t seen him in decades. Bill Staehle defended Moore against the sexual misconduct allegations by recalling the time they found themselves inside a brothel of teenage girls and how Moore quickly decided to leave. And when Moore and his wife, Kayla, took the stage, they let loose a long list of grievances. Kayla Moore, in an effort to persuade people that her husband is not anti-Semitic, noted the couple’s Jewish attorney and Jewish friends.

Most of the other speakers — a collection of prominent right-wing figures — tightly tied Moore to Trump.

“We’re all here to support President Trump,” Paul Nehlen, a GOP primary challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, said at the rally. “This is a spiritual battle.”

Bannon characterized a vote against the Republican as a vote against the “Trump miracle” and for opponents of the president, including those in the GOP establishment.

“Tomorrow they call the question,” Bannon said. “This is a national election.”

Roy Moore’s Last And Weirdest Campaign Event

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore stands behind his wife, Kayla, as she speaks during a campaign event Monday night in Midland City, Alabama.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Roy Moore’s closing argumen…