Update: Fellow Black Democrats Reportedly Seek Conyers' Exit
November 28th, 2017, 7:17 PM
Congressman John Conyers feels heightened pressure to resign.
Congressional Black Caucus members are discussing how to get the Democrat to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations, several party sources tell CNN. Conyers was at a discussion with colleagues Tuesday, according to Nancy Cordes of CBS News.
Conyers, in office since 1965, is considered "dean" of the caucus -- which has 47 voting members, including two senators and Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield. There's just one Republican, a Utah congresswoman.
New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg tweets that House Speaker "Nancy Pelosi is working quietly with CBC members to persuade John Conyers to resign."
They're reportedly trying to ease his exit without trampling on a legacy of 52 years in the House.
Two Democratic congresswomen not in the caucus earlier called for Conyers' departure, as detailed below.
Original article, Tuesday morning:
Support for John Conyers among liberals and progressives flowed as steadily as ocean tides for five decades. Now winter is coming and he's no longer a force of nature.
The tide turned after multiple sexual misconduct accounts.
Two fellow Democrats, Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, say Conyers should resign. He has been in the House since before each of the 52-year-old congresswomen was born.
It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Representative Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion âÂÂÂÂÂÂ Rep. Conyers must resign. pic.twitter.com/5RJUmEuRNf— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) November 28, 2017
That opposition shows that Conyers may feel the impact of "generational and gender divisions" in Congress, as a New York Times headline puts it Tuesday.
The climate change also is clear at Daily Kos, a 15-year-old commentary site that's popular among left-leaning activists. (It had 6.4 million unique visitors in the past month and more than 20 million site visits overall since Oct. 29, Quantcast data shows.)
Twelve years ago, a post there said the Detroit Free Press published a "petty and un-noteworthy story" about a food bank's complaint about apparent diversion of donations by Conyers' staff in Detroit. "I wondered how long it would be until the Reds found something to smear him with," says the site's January 2005 article (right), bylined with a screen name.
Since last week, by contrast, Daily Kos has two negative posts about the Detroit Democrat who first won his House seat in November 1964, a year after John Kennedy's assassination. "Add John Conyers to the list of sexual harassers," says a Nov. 20 headline. "Leaked documents reveal sexual harassment by John Conyers and Congress' broken system," says the head atop a follow-up by contributing editor Laura Clawson.
There are no claims of pettiness or a smear now. "Conyers’ career should be over as a result of these revelations," writes Clawson a day later. "Conyers absolutely has to go."
Daily Kos had a distinctly different tone a dozen years back when its anonymous post derided a Jan. 5, 2005 article by Joel Thurtell, headlined "Did U.S. Rep. John Conyers' Staff Steal the Christmas Turkeys?" The newspaper coverage began:
The director of a Detroit food bank wants to know what happened to 60 turkeys -- 720 pounds of frozen birds -- that his charity gave to members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers' local staff two days before Thanksgiving to give to needy people. . . .
The Gleaners Community Food Bank had received no paperwork as of Tuesday, said the charity's director, Agostinho Fernandes.
Fernandes said he became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a federal court worker had said he was offered free turkeys from a member of Conyers' staff. . . .
"Our mission of feeding hungry people has been violated by the people who should have been guardians of our mission," Fernandes said. "You have faith that these people are going to bring the food to the people it's intended to go to."
That same afternoon at Daily Kos, the anonymous writer dismissed the Detroit article: "All pretty yawn-worthy stuff. Essentially it's a case of paperwork not being done, or at worst a staffer swiping some food."
The skeptical post accuses Thurtell of "framing it so that Conyers' people look like criminals."
The former Freep reporter, now an author and blogger in Plymouth, looks back proudly at his coverage. "At the Detroit Free Press, we reported plenty of rot in the Conyers office back in the day," he says in the first of two posts Monday on the topic, adding:
Suddenly, Democrats are embarrassed [by] the longest-serving member of their caucus and of the U.S. House of Representatives. . . .
The Conyers stench is not new.
Democrats could have avoided the current scandal if they’d confronted this problem 14 years ago, when Conyers’ errant ways with public funds were first reported on November 21, 2003 in the Detroit Free Press.
In Washington, another journalist has decades-long knowledge of misdeeds by Conyers.
"Every female in the press corps knew" to avoid being in an elevator with Conyers, says Cokie Roberts, who joined NPR in 1992 and covered Congress for more than 10 years. She's still there and also appears on ABC News, where she spoke Sunday on "This Week" about the Detroiter:
"The fact that people are willing to be public can change things. I mean, we all talked about it for years -- don’t get in the elevator with him, you know. And every female in the press corps knew that, right? Don’t get in elevator with him.
"Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference."
While he allegedly pawed aides and reporters, in other words, Conyers himself was untouchable.