Nevada representative Ruben Kihuen, until recently thought to be a rising star in the Democratic Party, announced on Saturday that he would not seek reelection in 2018 amid claims that he sexually harassed women, both before and during his time as a lawmaker.
In a statement, Kihuen said that he denied the allegations, but that they “would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign. Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection.”
On Friday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it would launch an investigation into the claims against the 37-year-old, who is serving his first term in Congress.
BuzzFeed reported on December 1 that a staffer said Kihuen made unwanted sexual advances during the 2016 campaign. A lobbyist told The Nevada Independent last week that Kihuen had touched and messaged her inappropriately while he was a state senator. And on Saturday, another woman came forward to the Independent, accusing Kihuen of unwanted sexual overtures this year. Just minutes later, Kihuen announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi had called for Kihuen to resign after the first allegations emerged, as the Democratic Party attempts to adopt a strict policy on harassment within its ranks. Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers have both announced their resignations over sexual-harassment allegations; Republican congressman Trent Franks has followed suit on the other side of the aisle, while Congressman Blake Farenthold has said he won’t seek reelection.
Kihuen is a protégé of former Senate majority leader Harry Reid. He defeated a Republican incumbent last year, becoming the first Latino to represent Nevada in the House of Representatives.