Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal (/ˈrbən ˈkwɪn/; born April 25, 1980) is an American politician and former member of the United States House of Representatives for Nevada's 4th congressional district, serving from 2017 to 2019. He did not run for reelection after a formal reproval from a House Ethics Committee for his sexual misconduct while in office. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously was a member of the Nevada Senate from 2006-16. He was Nevada's first Latino member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Kihuen described himself as the first "Dreamer" elected to Congress.

Rubén Kihuen
Rep. Ruben Kihuen.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byCresent Hardy
Succeeded bySteven Horsford
Member of the Nevada Senate
from the 10th district
In office
January 2011 – January 2017
Preceded byBob Coffin
Succeeded byYvanna Cancela
Member of the Nevada Assembly
from the 11th district
In office
January 2007 – January 2011
Preceded byBob McCleary
Succeeded byOlivia Diaz
Personal details
Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal

(1980-04-25) April 25, 1980 (age 39)
Guadalajara, Mexico
Political partyDemocratic
EducationCollege of Southern Nevada
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (BS)
University of Oklahoma

In December 2017, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Kihuen to resign in response to sexual misconduct allegations against him by a female campaign staff member, as reported by BuzzFeed.[1] He refused to resign but did not run for reelection in 2018.

Early life and educationEdit

Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His family moved to the United States in 1988.[2] His father was a laborer in Orange County, California, before moving to Las Vegas in the 1990s and becoming a middle school science teacher.[2] Kihuen attended Rancho High School and was named the 1997–1998 Nevada "soccer player of the year."[2]

Ruben graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. While in high school and college, Kihuen volunteered for the campaigns of Senator Harry Reid, Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and Houston Mayor Lee Brown.[2] As of 2011, Kihuen was enrolled in the Master of Public Administration degree program at the University of Oklahoma.[3]

Early careerEdit

In 2002, Kihuen became a deputy field director for the Nevada Democratic Party.[2] He then served as regional representative to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.[2] He then worked as student recruiter and academic advisor for the College of Southern Nevada (CSN).[2] He is a past member of the Clark County Community Development Advisory Committee and the North Las Vegas Citizen's Advisory Committee.

Nevada legislatureEdit

Kihuen was first elected to the State Assembly in 2006, defeating incumbent Bob McCleary by a large margin (and with the support of the AFL-CIO) in a 3-way primary. The primary was shrouded by a scandal surrounding McCleary’s payment of $500 to David Adams, the third candidate in the race, who had briefly dropped out after the payment; Adams described the payment as a bribe while McCleary insisted that the payment had been compensation to work on his campaign.[4][5] Kihuen was unopposed in the general election.[6]

Kihuen served two terms before successfully running in 2010 to the Nevada State Senate after the incumbent was term-limited. During the 76th legislative session in 2011 he was the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth and Employment. In the 77th legislative session in 2013, he chaired the Senate Standing Committee on Revenue and Economic Development and served as Majority Whip for the Democrats in the Senate.[7]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Kihuen in 2012



In September 2011, Kihuen announced his intention to run to represent Nevada's 1st congressional district[8] but withdrew a month before filing opened in February 2012,[9] allowing former Representative Dina Titus to run without a contested primary.


On March 28, 2015, Kihuen announced he was running for Congress in Nevada's 4th congressional district, seeking to defeat first-term incumbent Republican Cresent Hardy.[10] He defeated seven other candidates in the Democratic primary on June 14, 2016.[11] Kihuen spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the only 2016 House recruit to do so.[12] During the campaign, Kihuen was on leave from his job at the Las Vegas-based public relations firm the Ramirez Group.[13]

Kihuen was criticized early in the campaign for still residing in the 1st district of Dina Titus rather than the 4th.[14]

Kihuen won the election by a vote of 128,680 (48.5%) to 118,220 (44.5%).[15] While Hardy carried six of the district's seven counties, Kihuen easily defeated Hardy in the district's share of Clark County, winning it by over 24,000 votes.[15]


Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Sexual misconduct allegationsEdit

Timeline of allegations
February 6, 2016: Kihuen follows finance director to her car, and tells her "You look really good, I'd like to take you out if you didn't work for me". She told Kihuen that she had a boyfriend and left.
February 19: Kihuen, while in an elevator with the finance director at the Aria Hotel on the way to a meeting with Tony Cárdenas, propositions her and suggests "we should get a hotel room here"; she refuses. While returning to campaign headquarters after the meeting, Kihuen began to touch her thigh and ask if she ever cheated on her boyfriend; she demanded he stop.
March: Kihuen asked the finance director for assistance with his computer during call time, when she was looking at the screen, he groped the back of her thigh.[1]

On December 1, 2017, a 25-year-old woman who served as finance director of Kihuen's 2016 congressional campaign accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted touching. The woman, who joined Kihuen's campaign in June 2015 and left in April 2016, alleges that Kihuen's behavior began in February, that he repeatedly requested that she go on dates or have sexual intercourse with him, and on two occasions forcibly touched her thighs without consent.[1]

Upon resigning from the campaign in April, the woman reported to a mid-level staffer at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that Kihuen had made her feel "uncomfortable", without offering any further details. The mid-level staffer proceeded to confer with another mid-level staffer, who in turn called Kihuen's campaign manager, Dave Chase, and informed him of the woman's discomfort around Kihuen. Chase then confronted Kihuen, who denied that anything had occurred.[1]

In addition to the finance director's conversation with the DCCC operative, she also documented Kihuen's behavior in a series of March 10, 2016 text messages to a friend, and shared contemporaneous details of her departure with four other individuals at the time.[1] When asked about the accusations, Kihuen said, "I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable".[1]

On December 13, 2017, a second woman accused Kihuen of sexual misconduct. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Nevada Independent that he touched her thighs or butt in three separate incidents, and has sent her hundreds of sexually suggestive text messages.[20] As of December 13, Kihuen has yet to deny or confirm the allegation to the Independent.[20] A third woman accused Kihuen of improper touching.[21]

In November 2018, the House Ethics Committee formally sanctioned Kihuen, determining he "made persistent and unwanted advances towards women".[22] The report noted that "each of the complainant’s allegations were supported by documentary evidence and some of the alleged incidents were corroborated by third-party witnesses."[21]


The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Ray Luján, demanded Kihuen's resignation immediately after being presented with the allegations by BuzzFeed on December 1, saying that "If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should not hold elected office, Congressman Kihuen should resign."[1]

Luján further punished Kihuen by ordering his immediate removal from the DCCC's Frontline program for incumbents in vulnerable seats.[23]

Luján was joined just after midnight on December 2 by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called for Kihuen's resignation and declared that "the young woman's documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward".[24]

Nevada Democrats were quick to condemn Kihuen, although only Jacky Rosen, a fellow member of Congress, explicitly called for him to resign. Aaron Ford, Kihuen's former leader in the Nevada State Senate, told reporters that he was "deeply disappointed and disturbed" by the allegations. Perhaps the most scathing criticism came from Congresswoman Dina Titus, who said that "many believed Ruben had great potential, but unfortunately his personal behavior has jeopardized his political career" and that "zero tolerance means zero tolerance. Ruben needs to step up and do what's right for the people of Nevada".[25]

Chase, who managed Kihuen's successful campaign but did not join his Washington office, told BuzzFeed that he believes the former finance director, and wishes that he "had known her specific allegations when I confronted Ruben after she left the campaign or in time to stop what took place".[1]

Lucy Flores, who served alongside Kihuen in the Nevada Legislature and had been his Democratic primary opponent in 2016, said that she found the allegations unsurprising given his reputation in the legislature, where "even though he maintained a girlfriend, he was known to be very flirtatious and hands on" and that she had "personally witnessed him being grabby with young, attractive women".[26]

Later in the day on December 5, Kihuen gave his first interview[27] since the allegations to ABC News, in which he declared his refusal to resign, instead saying that he "finds it interesting" that Pelosi, Lujan, and the DCCC "knew about these allegations last year". Kihuen went on to say that the DCCC and party leadership had investigated the allegations, but that "they didn't find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign". This was immediately denied by both Pelosi's office, which said that "Leader Pelosi first learned of these allegations from BuzzFeed last week", and the DCCC, who called Kihuen's statement "not true", adding that the DCCC had been "presented with these disturbing facts for the first time last week, and the chair immediately called for his resignation".[28]

On December 16, 2017, Kihuen announced that he would not seek re-election in 2018 but later claimed he was reconsidering this decision.[29] In January 2019, he announced he would seek a Las Vegas City Council seat.[22]

See alsoEdit

Electoral HistoryEdit

Democratic primary results[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ruben Kihuen 12,221 39.9
Democratic Lucy Flores 7,854 25.7
Democratic Susie Lee 6,407 21.0
Democratic Morse Arberry 1,902 6.2
Democratic Rodney Smith 869 2.8
Democratic Mike Schaefer 773 2.5
Democratic Dan Rolle 336 1.1
Democratic Brandon Casutt 240 0.8
Total votes 30,602 100.0
Nevada's 4th congressional district, 2016[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ruben Kihuen 128,985 48.6
Republican Cresent Hardy (incumbent) 118,328 44.5
Libertarian Steve Brown 10,206 3.8
Independent American Mike Little 8,327 3.1
Total votes 265,846 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Nocera, Kate; Parti, Tarini (December 1, 2017). "She Says She Quit Her Campaign Job After He Harassed Her. Now He's In Congress". BuzzFeed. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jordan, Miriam (August 7, 2007). "New Kingmaker: Vegas's Mr. Kihuen Will See You Now". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "Members of the Nevada Legislature" (PDF). Carson City, NV: Nevada Legislature. 2011. p. 26.
  4. ^ Nevada voters decide legislative contests. The Associated Press State & Local Wire. August 17, 2006
  5. ^ Nevada voters decide legislative contests. The Associated Press State & Local Wire. August 15, 2006
  6. ^ The Associated Press State & Local Wire. November 3, 2006
  7. ^ "Details". Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  8. ^ Karoun Demirjian. "Dina Titus being pressured not to run for 1st Congressional District seat". Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  9. ^ Karoun Demirjian. "Ruben Kihuen drops out of CD1 race, clearing way for Dina Titus". Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  10. ^ Myers, Laura (March 28, 2015). "Nevada Sen. Ruben Kihuen announces bid for Congress". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Marin, Lesley (June 14, 2016). "Ruben Kihuen wins Democratic nomination for Congressional District 4". KTNV. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  12. ^ Pathe, Simone (July 25, 2016). "Hispanic House Recruit Gets Prominent Speaking Slot at DNC". Roll Call. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  13. ^ "Politically Connected PR Firm Subpoenaed in Councilman Probe". CBS. The Associated Press. September 29, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  14. ^ Nevada Sen. Ruben Kihuen announces bid for Congress. Las Vegas Review-Journal. March 29, 2015
  15. ^ a b "Nevada U.S. House 4th District Results: Ruben Kihuen Wins". The New York Times. November 9, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  16. ^ "Members". Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  17. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  18. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  19. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Nash, Greg (December 13, 2017). "Second woman accuses Rep. Kihuen of sexual misconduct". The Hill. Washington, D.C.: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "House Ethics Committee sanctions a Democrat and a Republican over sexual-harassment-related allegations". The Washington Post. 2018.
  22. ^ a b Redden, Molly (February 1, 2019). "Her Sexual Harassment Claim Was Found Credible. By Then She'd Already Left Politics". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  23. ^ Hagen, Lisa (December 6, 2017). "House Dems scrubbed Kihuen from incumbent program after harassment allegations". The Hill. Washington, D.C.: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  24. ^ Nocera, Kate. "Nancy Pelosi Calls On Rep. Ruben Kihuen To Resign Following Sexual Harassment Allegations". BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Ralston, Jon. "The short, now-unhappy political career of Ruben Kihuen". The Nevada Independent. The Nevada Independent. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  26. ^ Caygle, Heather. "Freshman Democrat urged to resign after sexual harassment allegations". Politico. Politico. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  27. ^ Sanchez, Humberto. "Kihuen says he won't resign, says leaders asking him to leave knew about allegations but still supported him". The Nevada Independent. The Nevada Independent. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  28. ^ Bruce, Mary. "Nevada Democrat accused of sexual misconduct says he won't resign". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  29. ^ Viebeck, Elise (December 16, 2017). "Rep. Ruben Kihuen won't seek reelection amid sexual harassment allegations". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  30. ^ "2016 Official Statewide Primary Election Results June 14, 2016". Nevada Secretary of State. June 14, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  31. ^

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cresent Hardy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Steven Horsford