WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Ethics Committee said Friday it had opened an investigation into Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen over allegations of sexual harassment.
A former campaign aide said Kihuen, a freshman congressman, propositioned her for dates and sex despite her repeated rejections during his 2016 campaign. This week, a lobbyist told the Nevada Independent that he touched her thighs and buttocks and made unwanted sexual advances while he was a state senator.
In a statement, the Ethics panel said it was "aware of public allegations that Representative Ruben Kihuen may have engaged in sexual harassment."
The top House Democrat, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has called on Kihuen to resign, a request that he has resisted. Kihuen also apologized after the first allegation was made public, but said he didn't remember the events the way the former campaign aide had described.
"As I've said previously, I intend to fully cooperate, and I welcome an opportunity to clear my name," Kihuen said in response to the Ethics Committee one-page statement.
The announcement came from Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, the panel's chairwoman, and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, the ranking Democrat. They said the fact the committee was investigating the allegations does not indicate any violation has occurred and that the committee would make no further public statements pending completion of its initial review.
Kihuen is among a growing number of lawmakers whose political careers have been thrust into uncertainty or ended altogether by allegations of sexual misconduct.
On Thursday, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he would not seek re-election amid sexual harassment allegations that he has denied.
Last week, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., retired weeks after former aides shared stories of habitual sexual harassment. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced he would step down after he was accused of improper behavior by at least eight women and his support from fellow Democrats collapsed.
On Friday, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., abruptly resigned over revelations that he'd asked two staff members to act as surrogates to have his child, offering one $5 million.
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