(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York is the first, and so far the only Democrat to publicly call for Rep. John Conyers' resignation from the congressional seat he's held for 27 terms.
Conyers (D-Mich.) announced on Sunday that he will step down as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, but he denies the sexual harassment allegations against him and has made no announcement about leaving Congress.
One day after issuing a statement saying Conyers should resign, Rice told CNN's "New Day" on Friday that “enough is enough.”
“At this point, what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America,” Rice said. “Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else? And the list is endless. Compare what happened to Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin. All appropriate consequences.
“And yet once we get into the realm of politicians, well, get the ethics commission into it. And you know, let's investigate this, and you know, and take forever to come up with a conclusion.”
Rice said people are sick and tired of the fact that the rules for politicians in Washington are different than they are for “regular people.”
Rice, a former prosecutor, said she experienced sexual harassment 30 years ago in her first job in Brooklyn:
“And it was brutal. Ultimately you don't make things like that public. Because as a woman in the workplace, if you say this is happening to me, you’ve become a professional pariah. You don't have any choice but to accept it if the workplace is not going to address the issue.”
Rice said many men facing sexual harassment allegations are never going to answer for the accusations in a court of law, and many of the victims aren’t going to have their day in court, either.
“Right now, what we're talking about is, is there going to be any level of accountability. And saying that we're going to have these allegations against politicians go before an Ethics Committee that can sometimes take a couple of years, no offense to my colleagues who are on the Ethics Committee, but that's not real. That's not real. And that's not accountability," Rice said.
Rice said in the case of the House Ethics Committee, “you’re asking people, colleagues, to judge their colleagues.”
Rice said she is not making a political statement.
“I happen to be a Democrat. But the list is replete with Republicans and Democrats whether you're talking about the private sector or public sector. I will guarantee you that the regular person is absolutely appalled their tax money is being spent in this way. It shouldn't be.
“And that's why I support the bill that Jackie Speier is putting forward in the Congress that would say, guess what, if you have an allegation made against you and you want to settle it because you believe it’s credible and you want it to go away, dig into your own pocket. Don’t dig into the taxpayer’s pocket.”
Congress facing ‘existential question’
Rice said there is no transparency in Washington and there should be:
When we were elected, what is placed in us is a public trust that I think we should honor. When allegations like this come out and you find about payments and taxpayer money here, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I believe that Washington, Congress, is facing an existential question right now. How are we going to answer that question? Are we going to say, yes, we are just like everyone else and we should be held accountable just like everyone else, or will we continue to say Washington operates under its own set of rules.
Look, one could argue that Donald Trump got elected, one of the reasons, is because people were sick of the way we were doing business in Washington. And, you know, that's a sentiment that's real. And I understand that.