We’ve barely recovered as a nation from Representative Joe Barton’s embarrassing junk shot and now we’re being forced to contend with the mental image of Representative John Conyers cavorting around his office in his skivvies. There’s no information as to whether it was boxers or briefs, or perhaps something more…adventurous.
Attending official meetings scantily clad is only one of the many accusations leveled against Conyers, most of which aren’t even sexual in nature. Conyers mostly seems to be abusive toward employees in general. Attorney Melanie Sloan came forward with allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.
Melanie Sloan, a well-known Washington lawyer who for three years in the 1990s worked as Democratic counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers remains the ranking Democrat, told the Free Press that Conyers constantly berated her, screaming at her and firing her and then rehiring her several times.
She said he criticized her for not wearing stockings on at least one occasion. On another, she said he ordered her backstage from a committee field hearing on crime she had organized in New York City to babysit one of his children. Sloan made clear that she did not feel she had ever been sexually harassed, but that she felt “mistreated by this guy.”
“I’m no shrinking violet,” said Sloan, who went on to become the executive director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and later to open Triumph Strategy, a public affairs firm specializing in crisis response. “His constant stream of abuse was difficult to handle and it was certainly damaging to my self-respect and self-esteem.”
“It made me increasingly anxious and depressed about going to work every day. And there was no way to fix it. There was no mechanism I could use, no person I could go to,” she said.
It sounds reminiscent of the situation that led to Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy’s resignation. Sloan said that she was not the victim of sexual harassment but other women have accused Conyers of the inappropriate touching and rubbing.
Sloan told the Free Press that she never saw any inappropriate sexual touching but that Conyers — who is the longest-serving active member of Congress, having been elected in 1964 — seemed to have a lot of what she characterized as girlfriends around. Conyers has been married to his wife, Monica, a former Detroit City Council member who did prison time for bribery and other corruption charges, since 1990.
Sloan said that since she was not on Conyers’ personal staff but on the committee staff — which had different offices — she couldn’t verify or deny those other claims.
But she said that on one occasion, she was called to Conyers’ office in the Rayburn House Office building for a meeting and, when she got there, he was in his underwear.
“He was just walking around in his office, not dressed,” she said. “He wasn’t doing it to hit on me. It was more like he could do what he wanted. I was quite shocked by it and left quickly.”
Joe Barton channeling his inner Anthony Weiner isn’t in the same category as the rest of the sexual misconduct parade. In fact he’s the victim in that situation…primarily of his own utter stupidity. Conyers was already a disaster without misconduct allegations. You’ll recall that he was the Congressman who famously complained about how expecting Congress to read and understand legislation they pass was entirely unreasonable.
Barton and Conyers, like many who have been in public office longer than many voters have been alive, suffers from the arrogance of power that makes them feel they can do anything without fear of consequences. Showing up to work in only underwear is probably not the worst thing he’s done.