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Accused of sexual harassment by 4 women, Kihuen will serve out term, not seek re-election

A former campaign finance staffer claimed U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen sexually harassed her and made advances. (KSNV file photo)

Accused of sexual harassment by two women, Nevada freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen has decided not to seek re-election.

The first-term congressman said he denies the allegations of two women and plans to cooperate with the House Ethics Committee in an investigation announced on Friday.

According to the Nevada Independent, two more women disclosed over the weekend that they were unwanted targets of Kihuen's affection in recent months.

Within minutes after the Nevada Independent's story being posted on its website, Kihuen's office sent an email to Las Vegas media sources saying he planned to serve the remaining year of his term and not run for re-election.

“I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question,” the freshman Democrat said in a statement Saturday. “I am committed to fully cooperating with the House Ethics Committee and look forward to clearing my name.”

Democratic Party leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, have called for Kihuen to step down over the charges.

Kihuen said Saturday that he plans serve out his two-year term, adding that the allegations would be a distraction from a discussion of issues in a campaign.

News 3 has called Kihuen and his chief of staff, but has not received a return call, however, his office released the following statement:

"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."

A Democrat, Kihuen 37, is the latest of several elected officials who have resigned or announced retirement after women accused them of sexual harassment or sexually inappropriate behavior.

On Friday, the House Ethics Committee announced it would investigate sexual harassment claims leveled against Kihuen.

A former campaign finance aide said she quit in 2016 after Kihuen made unwanted advances and touched her inappropriately, according to a Dec. 1 story on BuzzFeed.

Democratic leaders soon called for Kihuen to step down over the allegations.

The Nevada Independent reported this week that a second unnamed woman, who worked as a lobbyist in Carson City when Kihuen was a state senator, came forward this week with similar accusations of harassment against the lawmaker.

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