The influential Congress Black Caucus on Wednesday stood behind Democratic Rep. John Conyers amid accusations of badual misconduct, calls for the resignation of other party leaders and a bipartisan vote to end such behavior.
"We do not urge John to resign," Representative Cedric Richmond said, after members discussed the issue at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill and in the midst of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee on the alleged conduct of Conyers.
"We believe it is a decision for him, his family and his constituents," said Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana. "When in an elected office, it's those people in your constituency … and your family who will influence what happens when ethical research is underway."
The comments represent a split with Democratic leaders such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Who despite initially defending Conyers, is said to be pressing privately for his resignation.
Three complaints of badual misconduct have resumed Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and member of the House of Representatives for a longer time. [19659004ThefirstappearedlastweekwhenBuzzFeedpostedastorythatarguedanagreementwithanemployeeofConyerswhosaidthatthestatuteof88yearshadbeendeniedtoheraftersherenouncedhernextstep
The news website reported that the Conyers office paid the woman more than $ 27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to resolve a complaint in 2015.
The ethics committee then announced that it had begun an investigation about Conyers, aft Receiving complaints of badual harbadment and age discrimination that involve staff members and about the congressman who uses "official resources for unacceptable personal purposes".
A few days later, a second former staff member filed more complaints of inappropriate behavior.
Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked with Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee, said she was called to the congressman's office to discuss a topic and found him "walking in underwear."
Sloan worked on the committee in the 1990s, but it was not clear when the alleged incident occurred. She also states that Conyers often shouted at her, dismissed her and hired her again, criticized her for not wearing socks and once even ordered her to take care of one of her children.
"I deny [all of] these accusations," Conyers also said Sunday. "I really want to vindicate myself and my family."
On Tuesday, The Detroit News reported that former staff member Deanna Maher alleges that Conyers badually harbaded her, including inappropriate touches, in three incidents from 1997 to 1999. She became the second former Conyers employee to be made public with such accusations.
At a CBC meeting on the same day, several members requested the resignation of Conyers.
Richmond said Wednesday that the accusations, if considered true, are unacceptable and the CBC is based on the findings of the ethics committee.
"All I know is that one denies it vehemently, one says it's true, ethics has to be legal," said Richmond, a lawyer. "If these accusations are true, then they are serious, they are disturbing, they are horrible, because we do not represent harbadment in the workplace or anywhere else."
Still, the main support of CBC officials for Conyers at this stage comes when several Democrats in Congress publicly suggest that they should resign.
"I think I should," Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said Wednesday in the "Washington Journal" of C-SPAN.
Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House's No. 2 Democrat, told MSNBC that Conyers should resign if the allegations are true.
Earlier this week, Representatives Kathleen Rice of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said they think Conyers should resign.
On Wednesday, the House pbaded a bipartisan measure that requires lawmakers and advisers to take annual anti-bullying training, following a similar measure from the Senate.
A few hours ago, Richmond and his fellow Democrat James Clyburn, South Carolina, were criticized on social media for suggesting a different standard for members of Congress who face accusations of badual harbadment, compared to figures like Matt Lauer of NBC or Charlie Rose of CBS, who were dismissed almost immediately.
"Who chose them?" Clyburn, the House Democrat Dutch minority leader, Pelosi, faced a similar reaction on Sunday when he told NBC that Conyers is an "icon" in the women's equality efforts, as well as reserves the judgment on the accusations until the Ethics Committee completes its review.
Within minutes of Conyers announcing his resignation from the judicial committee, Pelosi issued a statement saying: "Zero tolerance means consequences As a woman and mother of four daughters, I take any accusation of badual harbadment very seriously. .. No matter how big an individual's legacy is, it is not a license for harbadment. "
The Associated Press contributed to this report.