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Posted: December 15, 2017

House Ethics Committee probe launched after Kihuen accused of sexual harassment

This Nov. 14, 2016 file photo Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.,right, speaks with reporters as Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. The chairman of the House Democrats' campaign committee called on Kihuen to step down after a report Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, that he allegedly sexually harassed his campaign's finance director. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen,File)
Cliff Owen/AP
This Nov. 14, 2016 file photo Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.,right, speaks with reporters as Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. The chairman of the House Democrats' campaign committee called on Kihuen to step down after a report Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, that he allegedly sexually harassed his campaign's finance director. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen,File)

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

WASHINGTON —

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations levied against Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada.

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The announcement came after a pair of women accused the congressman Kihuen was sworn into office in January. Before representing Nevada’s 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, Kihuen served in the Nevada Senate.

A woman, who was not identified for fear of retribution, told The Nevada Independent on Thursday that she was working as a lobbyist when Kihuen was a state senator and that he “touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent.”

She showed the newspaper a slew of suggestive text messages she said were sent to her by Kihuen during the 2015 legislative session, including one asking that she “come sit on his lap in the middle of a committee meeting,” the Independent reported.

She said she had previously dealt with a slew of inappropriate Facebook messages from Kihuen, all sent during the 2013 legislative session.

“I don’t think Ruben thinks what he did was wrong,” she told the Independent. “Like, I think he just thought he was playing around, which, I don’t think he realized the position he probably put people in.”

In a statement obtained by the Independent, Kihuen pointed to his 10 years in the state Legislature, during which time he “dated several different women,” he said.

“Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t discuss my communications or any other details of those relationship,” he said.

Earlier this month, a woman told BuzzFeed News that she quit her job as a finance director for Kihuen’s 2016 congressional campaign after he made repeated sexual advances toward her.

The woman, identified only by the name Samantha, told the news site she began working for Kihuen in December 2015. She said ongoing sexual harassment led her to quit by April 2016. 

Twice, she said, he touched her thighs without her consent. She told Buzzfeed that Kihuen once touched her thigh while they were in a car together and after he asked if she had ever cheated on her boyfriend.

“She told him to stop, and said she said ‘no,’ and began talking about her boyfriend,” the news site reported.

In a separate incident in March, Samantha told BuzzFeed that Kihuen grabbed the back of her thigh in March 2016 as she was trying to help him with his computer while he was making fundraising calls.

“I asked him what he was doing and he stopped,” she said.

Democratic Party leaders have called on Kihuen to step down in the wake of the accusations. 

“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Dec. 2, after Samantha came forward. “The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward. In light of these upsetting allegations, congressman Kihuen should resign.”

Kihuen said last week that he has no intention to resign in light of the allegations, according to CNN.

“I’m definitely not resigning,” he said on Dec. 6. “That’s all I can tell you for now.”


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