The revelation that Rep. John Conyers paid $27,000 to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct means the Michigan congressman must step down, despite all the good he's done in the past, writes the Detroit Free Press editorial board. "The word 'hero' is invoked, without much hyperbole, around Conyers’ name, dating not only to his initial run for Congress in the mid-1960s, but to the stalwart civil rights activism in the 1950s and early 1960s that brought him to that point," the editorial says. But while he's played an integral role in legislation ranging from voting rights to health care reform, using taxpayer dollars to bury a scandal "is the kind of behavior that can never be tolerated in a public official, much less an elected representative of the people."
The editorial board says Conyers must resign, noting that if he does not, the inevitable Congressional investigation into his behavior will render him and his constituents "effectively voiceless." Conyers denies the woman's allegations, but that doesn't matter, the board writes. The way he dealt with the situation "disrupted the accepted process to deal with claims against members of Congress, and leveraged taxpayer funds—without the oversight of the ethics apparatus of the body itself—to make this claim go away." That's just one reason the settlement "looks an awful lot like hush money," they write. And so, after 53 years in Congress, there's no other choice for a "tragic end" to "a stellar career of fighting for equality." Click for the full editorial.