Facing ethics probe, Rep. Ruben Kihuen won't run for re-election

Rep. Ruben Kihuen's first term in Congress will also be his last. The freshman Nevada Democrat announced in a statement Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2018, after the House Ethics Committee launched a probe into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him.

In his statement, Kihuen continued to deny the allegations. 

Nothing is more important to me than my family and serving my constituents. It is the greatest honor of my life to represent Nevada's Fourth District as a Member of the United States House of Representatives. The support and encouragement of my constituents provides me with the strength and guidance to represent Nevada to the best of my abilities. 

I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question. I am committed to fully cooperating with the House Ethics Committee and I look forward to clearing my name. 

Due process and the presumption of innocence are bedrock legal principles which have guided our nation for centuries, and they should not be lost to unsubstantiated hearsay and innuendo. 

However, the allegations that have surfaced 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.

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it had launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Kihuen, allegations first reported by BuzzFeed News. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, almost immediately called on Kihuen to resign after the allegations surfaced.

BuzzFeed News reported a 25-year-old woman left her job on Kihuen's 2016 congressional campaign, citing repeated and unwanted propositions for dates and sex. The woman also alleged Kihuen inappropriately touched her thigh on two occasions. On Feb. 19. 2016, according to BuzzFeed, Kihuen told the woman they should "get a hotel room here" during a campaign-related visit to a hotel for a meeting with Rep. Tony Cardenas. The woman told BuzzFeed she refused. 

On the way back from the meeting to the campaign office, the woman claims Kihuen asked her if she'd ever cheated on her boyfriend, and started touching her thigh, according to BuzzFeed. On another occasion in March, the BuzzFeed report says Kihuen asked for help with something on the computer, and the woman alleges he grabbed the back of her thigh when she looked at the screen. 

Kihuen's decision not to run for re-election comes amid other departures from Congress over sexual harassment allegations, in an issue that has crossed party lines. 

Former Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan announced his immediate retirement after he was accused of sexual harassment, and former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, announced he would resign from Congress after allegations of sexual harassment. 

Among Republicans, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced he will not run for re-election after former staff members accused him of harassment, and former Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, announced his resignation after reports that he offered a staff member $5 million to carry his child. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.