Lawyer: Ethics panel agrees to subpoena Conyers accuser

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A lawyer for one of the staffers who alleges that U.S. Rep. John Conyers sexually harassed her says the House Ethics Committee has agreed to call her client to testify.

Attorney Lisa Bloom provided to The Detroit News a copy of the letter she emailed to Ethics Committee Chief Counsel Tom Rust that her client, Marion Brown, would travel to Washington this week to testify before the panel, if served with a subpoena.

“We are pushing for both speed and transparency,” Bloom told the News.

“We are asking that Marion be brought in to testify this Thursday or Friday, and that the hearing be open to the public. The long, drawn out, secret process that Marion went through in 2014-2015 was a big part of the problem here.”

Brown, through her attorney, had previously asked the ethics panel to subpoena her for its Conyers probe.

Typically, hearings of the Ethics Committee are closed to the public unless its members vote to open them.

As of Sunday morning, Bloom said she had not received the subpoena, which she was expecting to accept by email on behalf of Brown.

The Ethics Committee said last month it would open an inquiry into the allegations against Conyers, including that he might have sexually harassed his employees, discriminated against staffers based on age or used official resources for “impermissible” personal use.

Brown settled with Conyers’ office in 2015 for roughly $27,000 after filing a wrongful termination complaint claiming that she was dismissed for refusing Conyers’ sexual advances.

She went public Thursday, breaking a confidentiality agreement she signed as part of the settlement.

Brown told NBC’s “Today” show that Conyers touched her inappropriately over the decade or so that she worked for him and “violated” her body.

“He asked me to satisfy him sexually,” Brown said, describing an instance when he invited her to his hotel room in Chicago under the guise of discussing business. “He pointed to areas of, genital areas of his body and asked me to, you know, touch it.”

Conyers has denied Brown’s accusations and claims by two other former employees. His attorney on Friday called Brown an “opportunist.”

“Mr. Conyers asserts that he has done nothing wrong. For some reason, the tide has turned where some people are saying, not all, that he is bashing (women) because he is defending himself,” attorney Arnold Reed said at a Friday news conference in Detroit.

“He will continue to defend himself until the cows come home. Because unequivocally, unmitigatedly, he has indicated he has not sexually harassed anyone.”

Bloom challenged Reed’s characterization of Brown in a Saturday tweet.

“Congressman Conyers’ lawyer calls my client, sexual harassment accuser Marion Brown, an ‘opportunist.’ What opportunity is this giving her, exactly? Opportunity for social media hate? To miss work? To lose income? To relive old pain? To fear getting sued?” Bloom wrote.

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