John Conyers Jr

Report: Head of Congressional Ethics Office Sued
Ashmawy accused of verbal abuse and physical assault in civil action

Omar Ashmawy, staff director at the Office of Congressional Ethics. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The staff director and chief counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics is being sued for verbally abusing and physically assaulting women. 

Omar Ashmawy’s case goes back to his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, according to Foreign Policy.

Kihuen’s Future in Question After Second Accuser Comes Forward
Pelosi indicates Nevada Democrat wants to go through Ethics Committee process

A second woman has accused Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., of sexual harassment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s future remains in question amid calls to resign and a second accuser alleging he sexually harassed her while he was in the Nevada state Senate.

The Nevada Independent reported Wednesday night that a lobbyist claimed Kihuen sent her hundreds of text messages, some of them suggestive, and touched her inappropriately. Two weeks ago, Buzzfeed reported allegations that Kihuen harassed a former campaign staffer.

Forged Schumer Sexual Harassment Complaint Plagiarized Conyers Documents
U.S. Capitol Police investigating source of forgery

The office of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday the senator is the victim of a forged court document alleging sexual harassment crimes he did not commit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:48 p.m. | The forged court complaint outlining sexual harassment claims against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer directly copied a portion of the authentic court records of similar accusations against Rep. John Conyers, the Daily Beast reported.

Both the completely fabricated Schumer complaint and the authentic Conyers complaint reference “House Rule 23,” which of course would not have applied to Schumer, who was a senator in 2012, the year on the fake complaint document.

A Huge Congressional Settlement Involving Sexual Harassment — And Hardly Anyone Knew
Lawmakers on Helsinki Commission blindsided by report of $220K payout

Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings has denied allegations of sexual misconduct that led to a $220,000 payment to a former congressional staffer. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The $220,000 paid to former staffer Winsome Packer in 2014 is by far the largest known settlement involving Congress and accusations of sexual harassment in recent years.

But few, if any, of the lawmakers who served on the congressional commission where Packer worked seem to have been informed about it until the sum was reported by Roll Call on Friday.  

Opinion: The Real Year of the Woman
Female lawmakers are playing outsize role in sexual harassment debate

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., resigned after he reportedly suggested that a female staffer carry his child for $5 million and then retaliated against her when she balked. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It takes a special kind of depravity for a congressman to suggest to a female staffer that she carry his child for $5 million and then retaliate against her when she declines the offer, as former Rep. Trent Franks reportedly did last year.

Nobody is winning a profile in courage award for asking female staff members to cuddle with him in his apartment and then firing them after they refuse, as former Rep. John Conyers Jr. was accused of doing before he resigned in disgrace. And you’d think that voters would somehow weed out a senator who apparently had a groping habit before he was ever in politics, but former Sen. Al Franken proved that conventional wisdom wrong.

Exclusive: Taxpayers Paid $220K to Settle Case Involving Rep. Alcee Hastings
Former commission staffer alleged sexual harassment by Florida Democrat

Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings was accused of sexual misconduct by a former staff member of the Helsinki Commission. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury Department paid $220,000 in a previously undisclosed agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment that involved Florida Democrat Alcee L. Hastings, according to documents obtained by Roll Call.

Winsome Packer, a former staff member of a congressional commission that promotes international human rights, said in documents that the congressman touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job. At the time, Hastings was the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Packer worked.

Opinion: Al Franken and the Long Goodbye
Minnesota Democrat handled difficult speech about as well as he could

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and his wife, Franni, leave the Capitol on Thursday after he announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat “in the coming weeks.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Claiming the distinction of being, at 6 feet 9 inches, the tallest senator in history and ignoring the pesky detail of having lost an Alabama Republican primary to Roy Moore, Luther Strange delivered his farewell address Thursday morning.

It was a good-humored speech filled with predictable references to “this hallowed institution” that was in keeping with Strange’s short-lived Capitol Hill career as the appointed fill-in for Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

Photos of the Week: Three Resignations, a CR Extension and the Holidays Kick Off
The week of Dec. 4 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler arrives Thursday for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the FBI. Nadler became the top Democrat on the panel following Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s resignation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated at 10:08 a.m.The week on the Hill was not short on news. Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct while Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a fellow Democrat, announced he intended to do the same soon. Late Thursday, Republican Trent Franks from Arizona said he would resign effective Jan. 31 over sexual harassment allegations in his office.

At the same time, the funding deadline to keep the government open loomed. But a government shutdown was averted Thursday — at least for another two weeks — when both chambers passed a continuing resolution through Dec. 22. 

Want to Know Who Else Has Been Accused of Sexual Harassment in Congress? Good Luck
Congressional offices can’t release basic details of complaints — even to lawmakers

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock says Congress must “fundamentally change” how sexual harassment complaints are handled. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The details of sexual harassment complaints against members of Congress and their staffs are secret and cannot be released to lawmakers seeking to determine the extent of the problem on Capitol Hill, a congressional official testified Thursday. 

“The law doesn’t allow us to release anything,” said Susan Tsui Grundmann, the executive director of the Office of Compliance, which oversees the response to sexual harassment complaints in Congress. She told a hearing of the House Administrative Committee that if lawmakers want to know more — including the number of complaints filed and the names of the accused — they will have to change the law. 

Opinion: The Need for a Royal Distraction on This Side of the Pond
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle offer relief from White House and congressional dysfunction

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Nov. 27 and will marry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Though it was heresy in some quarters at the time, I cared not one whit when Prince Charles took Lady Diana Spencer as his bride — and yes, it was pretty much him choosing her as a suitable spouse. I did not indulge in the ritual some Anglophile friends bragged about, setting clocks to wake up to view the 1981 spectacle in real time while nibbling on some British-like snack.

I did not care about the carriage, the bridal party or the design of the wedding dress. These were folks with a guaranteed income, home and life, and I had more serious concerns.