John Conyers Jr

Rep. Tony Cárdenas spent $148,000 fighting dropped civil lawsuit
California Democrat still has over $20,000 left that will likely go to outstanding balances

California Rep. Tony Cárdenas has spent well over $100,000 on legal expenses for a lawsuit that was dismissed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Politicians can pay a heavy price when they’re accused of sexual misconduct — even when the case is dismissed. Just ask California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas.

He racked up almost $150,000 in legal expenses defending himself against a lawsuit that alleged he sexually assaulted a minor. In July, the alleged victim agreed to have the case dismissed with prejudice, meaning that she can’t file it again. But that doesn’t wipe out those expenses, even when the case is dropped.

Guns of war no more?
Lessons on bipartisanship during Hill orientation could make something like gun reform happen

The late Florida Rep. Claude Pepper left behind a legacy of bipartisanship in Congress that current lawmakers would be wise to follow, Weiner and Whitmire write. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The weekend mass shootings near Odessa, Texas, have only amplified calls for an overhaul of our nation’s gun laws. Last month, after horrific shooting incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump urged Congress to work on gun legislation in a bipartisan fashion. “Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside,” he said, and suggested both “red flag” warning-signal laws and background checks “like we’ve never had before.”

But with the current gridlock in Washington, it’s hard to envision bipartisan anything — let alone gun legislation — passing Congress any time soon. It’s even harder with the president adjusting his positions every couple of days. That begs the question: What more can be done to foster bipartisanship and big achievements in Congress?

Where are the members of the 115th Congress that left under scandal?
Only two scandal-tarred lawmakers from last Congress are still serving

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke, who was Interior secretary until last December, is now a managing director at cybersecurity and blockchain company Artillery One. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the #MeToo movement took hold in the past two years, nine members of the 115th Congress relinquished their seats amid allegations of sexual misconduct. That’s more than any Congress since at least 1901, based on an analysis of congressional departures by FiveThirtyEight.

Two other lawmakers left under scrutiny for financial or ethical improprieties, two who joined the Trump administration were later forced to resign their Cabinet posts, and two representatives indicted last year are still in office fighting the charges.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s affairs with congressional staff raise sexual harassment concerns
California Republican denies groping another staffer at a 2014 event

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., allegedly entered into affairs with two congressional staffers, according to a court filing by the Department of Justice. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Party leaders have demurred on whether Rep. Duncan Hunter should resign in light of revelations that he pursued relationships with two congressional staffers, including one of his own aides.

But that does not mean allegations that the California Republican had “intimate relationships” — as U.S. attorneys described them in a recent court filing — with two staffers, including a direct subordinate, will not trigger consequences on Capitol Hill.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wants you to stop laughing about reparations
Writer takes aim at reparation critics like Mitch McConnell

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Dave Chappelle has a sketch imagining a future in which African Americans are awarded reparative damages due from centuries of American slavery and discrimination. The routine features newly rich black people “blowing” their payments on rims, menthol cigarettes and rap record labels. The sketch is a smorgasbord of stereotypes conveying the message that the concept of reparations is so preposterous that it’s OK to make fun of it.

But fewer people are laughing now. And that’s largely because of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and his 2014 landmark essay “The Case for Reparations.” The 15,000-word article, published in The Atlantic, didn’t just deal with chattel slavery; it focused on housing discrimination and predatory lending practices that robbed many black Americans of their wealth. According to reparations proponents, that legacy is largely responsible for the ongoing racial wealth gap, wherein the typical white family owns 10 times the assets of the typical black family.

Clay wants Congressional Black Caucus to snub George H.W. Bush statue
Rep. William Lacy Clay and his father oppose the new sculpture on historically black Hampton University’s campus

From left, Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Cedric Richmond, D-La., Alma Adams, D-N.C., William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., and John Conyers, D-Mich., speak in front of the painting by Missouri high school student David Pulphus after it was rehung, January 10, 2017. The painting was removed from the Congressional Art Competition display in Cannon tunnel by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. and his father, a former congressman, are asking the Congressional Black Caucus to follow their lead and oppose a sculpture of George H.W. Bush on the campus of historically black Hampton University.

Last weekend, the Hampton, Virginia university unveiled its new Legacy Park, which commemorates the 41st president along with a host of black leaders including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and Barack Obama.

Brenda Jones Sworn Into the House for Remainder of Lame Duck
Questions surrounded her unwillingness to resign from Detroit City Council

Michigan Rep. Brenda Jones was sworn in Thursday to the House for a short term that expires at the end of the 115th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Michigan Democrat Brenda Jones was sworn into the House on Thursday for a brief term that will expire at the end of the 115th Congress. Her tenure is a break with more than 100 years of precedence since she will continue to serve in another elected office simultaneously. 

Jones won a special election in Michigan’s 13th District earlier this month to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Democrat who resigned last December following accusations of sexual misconduct. Jones had also run for the full term that begins next year but lost in the August Democratic primary to Rashida Tlaib, who easily won the general election on Nov. 6. 

There’s Some WTF in This Lame Duck Session of Congress
Appointed, maybe and not-yet, maybe-never members dot the Capitol

Members-elect from the 116th Congress pose for the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Every lame duck session of Congress is special in its own way, and the current one, operating alongside the orientation session for newly elected members of Congress, has its share of oddities and weirdness. 

Speaker Paul D. Ryan swore in new members of the House on Tuesday, those who won special elections to fill out unexpired terms, Joseph D. Morelle, D-N.Y., and Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa. Oh, and also an “appointed” member, Republican Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.  

Think Your Thanksgiving Is Lively? These 4 Siblings All Work in Congress
Republicans. Democrats. Turkey bacon. Welcome to a Hervig family feast

From left, Angela Hervig, Daniel Hervig, Janelle Relfe, her husband Mitch Relfe, and Mary Beth Hervig. All of them work on the Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What has four siblings, two parties and five careers at the Capitol?

The Hervig family. And don’t even get them started on Thanksgiving.

Former Hill Staffers Who Were Victims of Sexual Harassment Call for Leaders to Act
Differences still being worked out between House bill passed bill in February and Senate version passed in May

Seven former Capitol Hill staffers penned a letter Thursday urging action on sexual harassment policies in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seven former congressional staffers who experienced sexual harassment or assault while working on Capitol Hill sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Thursday urging them to enact changes to harassment and discrimination policies. 

“We write to remind you, and every member of the 115th Congress, not only of the pain we suffered, but also of the shame and humiliation that current staffers must bear when they too are victimized by harmful and discriminatory actions from a member of Congress, a supervisor, or a colleague,” wrote the seven women.