The same rules that apply to Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and Mark Halperin should apply to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). That’s according to Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who has called on Conyers to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Here’s what Rice told CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week:
What I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America. Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else? Compare what happened to Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin — all appropriate consequences. And yet, once we start getting into the realm of politicians, well, let’s get the ethics commission into it and let’s investigate this and take forever to come up with a conclusion.
I have to give Rice credit here. In a rare occurrence for a Washington, D.C. lawmaker, she actually put people before politics by calling on Conyers, a member of her own party, to resign amid sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.
Other Democrats have called for Conyers to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. For some reason, they really believe they are “championing” women by doing so, as if backing an investigation by members of Congress into another member of Congress that will take months, if not years, is somehow worthy of praise.
But, while I agree with Rice that Conyers should resign from Congress altogether, the New York Democrat’s silence on another sexual assault incident is deafening.
Rice has been outspoken on Conyers, but she hasn’t exactly been as outspoken on disgraced Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
Franken, like Conyers, is undergoing an ethics investigation of his own amid sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations, including a photograph from 2006 that shows him groping a woman’s breasts while she slept. Franken has apologized for the alleged incidents but said Monday that he plans to “get back to work.”
The same voters in Minnesota who elected Franken — his employer — don’t think he should get back to work, though. According to a recent poll, just 22 percent of the 600 Minnesotans surveyed said Franken should remain in office in light of the allegations. Thirty-three percent said that Franken should resign immediately.
The remaining 36 percent said Franken should wait for the results of the ethics investigation.
Why, though, should politicians like Franken enjoy what no private sector employee would ever experience. Namely, the “right” to remain in a job during a sexual assault investigation. Any decent employer would at the very least place said employee on suspension while the investigation is carried out. Most, I would argue, would outright fire them.
That’s what happened with Weinstein and Halperin. It’s what happened with Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Charlie Rose. It’s what should happen with Franken. Kathleen Rice should know that.
And say it.