9 members of Congress who were forced out of office by sexual misconduct scandals

Nine members of the 115th US Congress have had to step down after allegations of sexual misconduct against them became public.

This wave of scandals stemmed from the #MeToo movement, the rising national conversation on workplace sexual harassment after highly publicized allegations of predatory behaviour by prominent men in media and entertainment.

Here are the four Democrats and five Republicans who became embroiled in controversy all within the first of this Congress’ two years:


Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Democrat

Franken resigned after a Senate ethics panel looked into accusations from eight women who said he had groped and forcibly kissed them.

The twice-elected senator announced his intent to resign after dozens of senators publicly called for him to step down in early December, and officially stepped down in early January.

“A couple months ago I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country … We were finally beginning to listen to women,” he said in his resignation speech on the chamber floor. “Then the conversation turned to me.”


Rep. Blake Fahrenthold of Texas, Republican

Fahrenthold resigned in April, months after reports revealed he spent $US84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a 2014 sexual harassment claim from his former communications director.

The representative of Texas’ 27th district said in December he would not seek re-election, and then in April issued a statement that he was ending his term early, and it was time to “look for new ways to serve.”

Since 1997, the House has spent more than $US17 million in taxpayer money to settle workplace disputes, including sexual harassment complaints.


Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, Democrat

Conyers resigned in December after 53 years in Congress. Buzzfeed News had reported he settled a female staffer’s sexual harassment compliant in 2015 for more than $US27,000.

After the report, more women came forward with similar allegations against Conyers, and scores of his Democratic colleagues called on Conyers to step down.


Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, Republican

Murphy resigned in October after reports emerged he pressured a woman he was having an affair with to get an abortion.

He had served as representative of Pennsylvania’s 18th district since 2003, and was anti-abortion. Murphy had admitted to the affair a month earlier but resigned when text messages a report on his office’s alleged hostile environment became public.


Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, Republican

Franks abruptly resigned in December amid several sexual harassment allegations from former staffers and hours after the Associated Press reported he offered a former staffer $US5 million to carry his child.

The member of the House Freedom Caucus had previously announced he would resign in January after he heard of a House Ethics Committee investigation into reports he asked two female staffers to be surrogates for his family. Franks had served Arizona’s 2nd and 8th districts since 2003.


Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, Republican

Barton announced in November that he wouldn’t seek re-election after a nude photo and explicit messages from him were circulated online.

He initially apologised for the posts and suggested he could be the victim of online exploitation, until a tea party staffer came forward with evidence of explicit messages from Barton and prompted him to announce his retirement. He served Texas’ 6th congressional district since 1985.


Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut, Democrat

Esty announced she wouldn’t run for re-election after the Washington Post reported she kept her chief of staff employed for months after learning he had harassed another female staffer and threatened to kill her.

“I know that survivors come first – we need to believe them and support them,” Esty said in an apology after the report became public. “We need to include survivors and allies alike in the conversation about how to implement the changes necessary both in Congress and more broadly to prevent this from happening again.”

She had served Connecticut’s 5th since 2013.


Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, Democrat

Kihuen announced in December that he wouldn’t seek re-election beyond his freshman term after two former colleagues accused him of unwanted sexual advances online and in person.

He initially refused to resign as representative of Nevada’s 4th district and denied the allegations.


Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Republican

Meehan resigned from Congress in April, and said he planned to reimburse taxpayers $US39,000 he used to settle a complaint from a decades-younger former aide who accused him of repeated unwanted romantic advances.

In January, he was removed from the House Ethics Committee and announced he wouldn’t seek re-election after The New York Times reported on the settlement. Meehan had represented Pennsylvania’s 7th district for four terms.

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