Ethics panel opens inquiry into Nevada Dem over sexual harassment claims

Ruben J. Kihuen speaks on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Ruben J. Kihuen speaks on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday said Kihuen should step down. On Saturday, Kihuen said he would serve out his two-year term.

"It is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek re-election", Kihuen told The Las Vegas Review-Journal in a statement.

Kihuen, 37, a freshman Democrat elected a year ago, is the latest of a wave of elected officials who have resigned or announced retirement after women accused them of sexual harassment or sexually inappropriate behavior.

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The U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee said on Friday it has begun an investigation into public reports that Democrat Ruben Kihuen engaged in sexual harassment, adding that announcing the probe was not a sign the committee already has determined the Nevada Representative violated any rules.

Kihuen said he will cooperate with the committee.

Democratic Party leaders first called for Kihuen to step down over allegations of sexual harassment made public in a BuzzFeed story December 1.

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The Nevada Independent reported new allegations by a lobbyist who said Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen on several occasions touched her thighs and buttocks while he was a state senator, and made repeated sexual advances during the course of the 2015 legislative session.

A second woman spoke to The Nevada Independent in a December 13 story, claiming Kihuen made repeated sexual advances while he was a state senator in 2015 and she was a lobbyist.

The announcement came from Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of IN, the panel's chairwoman, and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, the ranking Democrat.

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The Ethics Committee stressed in the statement that the initiation of an investigation did not indicate wrongdoing by Mr. Kihuen. He had settled a sexual harassment claim with a former staffer for $84,000 and other aides accused him of creating a hostile workplace environment.

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