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John Conyers and How Congress Covers Up Sexual Exploitation

If you saw my conversation with my board curmudgeon,  you would have seen I worked in the Halls of Congress for some years as part of my work for a computer manufacturer in my early career. So I am aware of the extent to which Congress excludes themselves from compliance with certain laws (like EEO) and covers up malfeasance.

If they are digging up Conyer’s dirt…

There is going to be hell on the Hill shortly – Because beside some of these guys, Conyers is a relative saint.

And Conyers ain’t no saint.

She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.

“When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

Conyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he “vehemently denied” the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.

And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.

“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.

Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.

The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.

Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.

After this an employee can choose to take the matter to federal district court, but another avenue is available: an administrative hearing, after which a negotiation and settlement may follow.

Some members of Congress have raised major concerns with the current system over the years, but the calls for an overhaul have grown louder in the post-Weinstein era. Members have argued that 90 days is too long to make a person continue working in the same environment with their harasser; that interns and fellows should be eligible to pursue complaints through this process; and that it is unfair for a victim to have to pay for legal representation while the office of the harasser is represented for free by the House’s counsel.

In this case, one of Conyers’ former employees was offered a settlement, in exchange for her silence, that would be paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget. His office would “rehire” the woman as a “temporary employee” despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work, according to the document. The complainant would receive a total payment of $27,111.75 over the three months, after which point she would be removed from the payroll, according to the document.

The draft agreement viewed by BuzzFeed News was unsigned, but congressional employment records match the timing and amounts outlined in the document. The woman left the office and never went public with her story.

The process was “disgusting,” said Matthew Peterson, who worked as a law clerk representing the complainant, and who listed as a signatory to some of the documents.

“It is a designed cover-up,” said Peterson, who declined to discuss details of the case but agreed to characterize it in general terms. “You feel like they were betrayed by their government just for coming forward. It’s like being abused twice.”

Other lawyers named as representing the accuser could not be reached for comment. The Office of Compliance did not confirm or deny that it had dealt with the case.

“Pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act, the OOC cannot comment on whether matters have or have not been filed with the office,” Laura Cech, publications and outreach manager of the Office of Compliance, told BuzzFeed News in an email when asked to comment on this case.

Two staffers alleged in their signed affidavits that Conyers used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with. Another said she was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.

Rep. Conyers did not admit fault as part of the settlement. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday, but released a public statement on the matter Tuesday afternoon.

The documents were first provided to BuzzFeed News by Mike Cernovich, the men’s rights figure turned pro-Trump media activist who propagated a number of false conspiracy theories including the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Cernovich said he gave the documents to BuzzFeed News for vetting and further reporting, and because he said if he published them himself, Democrats and congressional leaders would “try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger.” He provided them without conditions. BuzzFeed News independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents with four people directly involved with the case, including the accuser.

In her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.

She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.

Three other staff members provided affidavits submitted to the Office Of Compliance that outlined a pattern of behavior from Conyers that included touching the woman in a sexual manner and growing angry when she brought her husband around.

One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

The employee said in her affidavit that Conyers also made sexual advances toward her: “I was driving the Congressman in my personal car and was resting my hand on the stick shift. Rep. Conyers reached over and began to caress my hand in a sexual manner.”

The woman said she told Conyers she was married and not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit. She said she was told many times by constituents that it was well-known that Conyers had sexual relationships with his staff, and said she and other female staffers felt this undermined their credibility.

“I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers,” she said in her affidavit.

A male employee wrote that he witnessed Rep. Conyers rub the legs and other body parts of the complainant “in what appeared to be a sexual manner” and saw the congressman rub and touch other women “in an inappropriate manner.” The employee said he confronted Conyers about this behavior.

“Rep. Conyers said he needed to be ‘more careful’ because bad publicity would not be helpful as he runs for re-election. He ended the conversation with me by saying he would ‘work on’ his behavior,” the male staffer said in his affidavit.

The male employee said that in 2011 Conyers complained a female staffer was “too old” and said he wanted to let her go. The employee said he set up a meeting in December 2011 to discuss “mistreatment of staff and his misuse of federal resources.” The affidavit says that Conyers “agreed that he would work on making improvements as long as I worked directly with him and stopped writing memos and emails about concerns.”

Another female employee also attested that she witnessed Conyer’s advances, and said she was asked to transport women to him. “I was asked on multiple occasions to pick up women and bring them to Mr. Conyers[‘] apartment, hotel rooms, etc.”

BuzzFeed News reached out to several former Conyers staffers, all of whom did not want to speak on the record. One former staffer, who did not want to be named, said she was frustrated by the secretive complaint process.

“I don’t think any allegations should be buried…and that’s for anyone, not just for this particular office, because it doesn’t really allow other people to see who these individuals are,” said the former staffer. “When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”

Another staffer said Conyers’ reputation made people fearful to speak out against him. Aside from being the longest-serving House member and the ranking member of a powerful committee, Conyers is a civil rights icon. He was lauded by Martin Luther King Jr. and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Your story won’t do shit to him,” said the staffer. “He’s untouchable.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was not aware of the settlement.

“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi said in the statement. “I strongly support her efforts.”…

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Lack of Character – Mike Pence Refused Pardon of Innocent Man

The reason Mueller is pursuing the Chumph/Russia case the way he is, is that he knows simply taking down the Chumph won’t solve the problem. VP Mike Pence is every bit as racist, and is likely far more dangerous to the country than the feeble minded Chumph.

Here s hoping that the victim’s lawyers find a route to prosecute Pence criminally.

Keith Cooper spent 10 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Even after being released for innocence, and with a unanimous recommendation from the state parole board, Pence Refused to sign the exoneration to clear Cooper’s name.

 

Exonerated Man Who Mike Pence Wouldn’t Pardon Sues Police Over Wrongful Conviction

A 50-year-old Indiana man who spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit has sued, claiming that police framed him. Earlier this year, Keith Cooper, whom Mike Pence declined to exonerate while he was governor, became the first person in Indiana history pardoned for innocence.

An Indiana man who spent 10 years in prison for an armed robbery that he didn’t commit has sued the local police department, claiming they fabricated false evidence to convict him.

Keith Cooper’s case came into the national spotlight after Vice President Mike Pence, while still serving as Indiana governor, declined to pardon Cooper, despite a unanimous recommendation from the state parole board to exonerate him.

In February 2017, Pence’s successor, current Indiana governor Eric Holcomb, granted Cooper’s pardon, making him the first person in Indiana to be pardoned for actual innocence in the state’s history. Cooper waited six years for his pardon and three years for the governor’s office to act on the parole board’s recommendation.

Now Cooper has filed a civil rights complaint against the local police and the City of Elkhart, Indiana, alleging “egregious wrongdoing of manufacturing and fabricating all the evidence of his supposed guilt.”

In August 2016, BuzzFeed News reportedabout Cooper’s wrongful conviction of the 1996 robbery where one man was shot.

Twelve years after the incident, in 2008, shooting victim Michael Kershner and his mother, Nona Canell, gave videotaped statements claiming that they misidentified Cooper.

Canell said that during the initial investigation she requested “numerous times” to see a lineup of suspects, but the lead detective on the case, Elkhart police detective Steve Rezutko, assured her that they had “the right guy” in Cooper.

In 2006, after reviewing the new testimony from Kershner and Canell, along with new DNA evidence putting another man at the crime scene, the state court judge in Cooper’s case offered him a deal to resentence him to time served. Cooper was freed but the felony conviction stayed on his record.

Five years later, Cooper filed a petition to have the crime he didn’t commit erased from his record. It would take another three years, but in 2014 the state’s parole board unanimously recommended that Cooper be pardoned, sending the recommendation to then-governor Pence’s desk.

But Cooper’s attempt to formally clear his name stalled there, as Pence declined to act on the pardon for over two years. Then in the summer of 2016, while Pence campaigned alongside Donald Trump as his vice presidential pick, his general counsel sent Cooper and his attorneys a letter stating that “to our knowledge, Mr. Cooper has not filed a petition with the courts in Elkhart County to determine whether post-conviction relief is available.”

The letter added that Pence would not act on the parole board’s recommendation “out of respect for the judicial process.”

Despite Pence’s claims that Cooper had not fulfilled his obligations with the court, when Gov. Holcomb — who served as Pence’s deputy — took office, he acted on the board’s recommendation and granted the pardon.

Cooper’s lawsuit filed this week doesn’t name the governor’s office as a defendant, rather he is suing the City of Elkhart and the individual officers, including Rezutko, who investigated the robbery. Cooper claims in his lawsuit that they maliciously prosecuted him with false evidence. He says that to this day he suffers from ongoing depression and PTSD from the episode.

“It took more than two decades for Keith to finally get his name back,” said Elliot Slosar, staff attorney with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago. “Today begins his much shorter journey towards rebuilding the life he once enjoyed before being framed for a crime he did not commit.”

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Trump/Pence – Same racist shit …Different hair color

 

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The Strange Firing of a Black Sheriff Spawns Lawsuits

This one is close to home for me, as I visit this particular town often.

The first black Sheriff of this peaceful Eastern Shore town was fired for no apparent reason. Then a citizen in the town comes up with fantastical allegations against the Sheriff.

 

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7 NFL Owners Face Deposition and Subpoenas In Kaepernick Suit

A couple of NFL teams are down to giving the local High School players a job as quarterback due to injuries.

And no team has a place for the only active guy who actually took his team to the Superbowl?

 

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Cosby, Weinstien…Trump

Seems the sexual assault cases against the Chumph didn’t quite go away.

The Molester in Chef is going to get some time in court.

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Team Trump faces subpoena over sexual misconduct allegations

Though the story largely faded after last fall’s election, Donald Trump was recorded in 2005 bragging about committing sexual assaults. The Republican said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers attractive – “I don’t even wait,” Trump claimed at the time – which he said he can get away with because of his public profile.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the recording. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p—y.”

After Trump denied having done what he bragged about doing, 11 women came forward to accuse the Republican of sexual misconduct – one of whom, Summer Zervos, is currently suing the president for defamation, after Trump insisted each of his accusers is a liar.

BuzzFeed reported yesterday the latest development in this ongoing litigation.

A high-stakes legal showdown is brewing for President Donald Trump, as a woman who said he groped her has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” […]

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice, accused Trump of kissing and grabbing her when she went to his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization…. As part of that suit, her lawyers served a subpoena on his campaign, asking that it preserve all documents it had about her.

Note, while the lawsuit isn’t new, we weren’t aware of the detail highlighted by BuzzFeed. The subpoena was entered into the court file on Sept. 19, nearly four weeks ago.

The article added that Zervos and her lawyer have asked for “all documents” related to the president’s other accusers.

The president’s private legal team has tried to make the case go away – Trump has denied doing anything wrong – arguing among other things that the case could “distract a President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation.”

Though the cases have some important differences, Bill Clinton’s lawyers tried a similar tack in the Paula Jones case in the 1990s, and it didn’t work out for the sitting president.

NBC News’ report on this added that Gloria Allred, Summer Zervos’ attorney, said Trump and his lawyers “must reply to their filed opposition of his motion to dismiss by Oct 31. The court will schedule a hearing for argument once he files his reply, which means there is no hearing date yet.”

Postscript: Shortly before the election, Trump vowed to file suits of his own against the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. To date, that hasn’t happened.

 

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Kaepernick Files Legal Grievance Against NFL

About time…There is now ample evidence of this happening.

I also expect the filing of a grievance by the NFL Players Union against the league.

 

 
 

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The Chumph Border Wall Ends at California

Not having that here!

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California sues to block Trump’s border wall

The State of California is suing to block President Donald Trump’s plan to construct a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the top lawyer for the state told reporters Tuesday.

The lawsuit set to be filed in federal court in San Diego will argue that the effort violates federal law and the Constitution by intruding on state authority, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

“They’re violating the Tenth Amendment and infringing on a lot of state laws, not just federal laws, that affect our state. At the same time, they’re trying to do something that only Congress can do,” Becerra told journalists in Washington in advance of an official announcement he plans to make in San Diego Wednesday.

Becerra said the suit will argue that federal officials are running afoul of the law by declaring the expansion of the border wall to be an emergency that justifies waiving environmental studies and usual contracting procedures.

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to create a border wall that the Mexican government would pay for. Mexican officials have flatly rejected contributing any funds to such a project. With most Democrats in Congress staunchly opposed to the idea, it’s unclear how Trump will get money for construction.

Nevertheless, Trump administration officials are pressing forward with studies and prototypes. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security awarded contracts to eight companies to produce prototypes of potential barriers. Half the awards were for concrete wall designs, while the others will explore use of other materials.

Becerra is set to announce the suit during a press conference at a state park near the border.

One of the Trump administration’s most outspoken supporters of tougher measures at the border—Attorney General Jeff Sessions—is also set to be nearby a bit earlier on Wednesday to announce record drug seizures.

 

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