A freshman Congressman who has come under fire after sexual assault allegations is claiming party leadership knew of the complaints a year ago, and still supported his candidacy.
Nevada Congressman Ruben Kihuen told ABC News that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, knew about the allegations against him, but did not find anything of substance and continued to support him.
“They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign. They went out there and campaigned for me,” Kihuen told ABC News Tuesday of Pelosi and Lujan.
Representatives for both the DCCC and Pelosi told ABC Kihuen’s account was false, and that they learned of the allegations last week, when Buzzfeed first reported them. The outlet reported December 1 that a 25-year-old woman, only identified as “Samantha” had left her job as the finance director on Kihuen’s campaign because he repeatedly propositioned her for dates and sex, and twice touched her thighs without her consent.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, 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.”
Both Lujan and Pelosi called on Kihuen to resign after the publication of the article. But Kihuen told ABC he was not resigning. “I plan on continuing the job that I was elected to do by the people of the 4th congressional district,” he said.