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Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal /ˈrbən ˈkwɪn/ (born April 25, 1980) is an American politician from Nevada who is the U.S. Representative for Nevada's 4th congressional district. A Democrat, he was previously a member of the Nevada Senate. He is Nevada's first Latino member of the U.S. House and Kihuen described himself as the first Dreamer elected to Congress.

Ruben Kihuen
Rep. Ruben Kihuen.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Cresent Hardy
Member of the Nevada Senate
from the 10th district
In office
2010–2016
Preceded by Bob Coffin
Succeeded by Yvanna Cancela
Member of the Nevada Assembly
from the 11th district
In office
2006–2010
Preceded by Bob McCleary
Succeeded by Olivia Diaz
Personal details
Born Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal
(1980-04-25) April 25, 1980 (age 37)
Guadalajara, Mexico
Political party Democratic
Education University of Nevada, Las Vegas (BS)
University of Oklahoma
Website House website

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called on Kihuen to resign in response to sexual misconduct allegations against him by a female campaign staff member, as reported by BuzzFeed.[1] Kihuen has publicly refused to resign.

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Kihuen was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His family moved to the United States in 1988.[2]

Kihuen's 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] He 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

First elected to the state assembly in 2006, Kihuen served two terms before successfully running for the state senate in 2010. In 2010, Kihuen was elected 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.[4]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

 
Kihuen in 2012

ElectionsEdit

2012Edit

In September 2011, Kihuen announced his intention to run to represent Nevada's 1st congressional district[5] but withdrew a month before filing opened in February 2012,[6] allowing former Representative Dina Titus to run without a contested primary.

2016Edit

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.[7] He defeated seven other candidates in the Democratic primary on June 14, 2016.[8] Kihuen spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the only 2016 House recruit to do so.[9] During the campaign, Kihuen was on leave from his job at the Las Vegas-based public relations firm the Ramirez Group.[10] Kihuen won the election by a vote of 128,680 (48.5%) to 118,220 (44.5%).[11]

Kihuen defeated Hardy by just over 10,000 votes. While Hardy carried six of the district's seven counties, Kihuen swamped Hardy in the district's share of Clark County, winning it by over 24,000 votes.[11] He was sworn in on January 3, 2017, becoming the first Hispanic to represent Nevada in the House of Representatives. He is also one of the first two Hispanics to represent the state in Congress; Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was sworn in the same day.

TenureEdit

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 was sent hundreds of sexually suggestive text messages.[12] As of December 13, Kihuen has yet to deny or confirm the allegation to the Independent.[12]

ResponseEdit

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.[13]

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".[14]

Nevada Democrats were quick to condemn Kihuen, although only Jacky Rosen, a fellow member of Congress and the party's presumptive 2018 Senate nominee, 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".[15]

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".[16]

During the morning of December 3, Jon Ralston, Nevada's best known political reporter and commentator, reported that Kihuen was "in denial and denying everything", but that in the aftermath of the scandal, his career was "dead" and the "only mystery is the timing of his burial and whether Democrats can save the seat".[17][18]

On the morning of December 5, amidst growing calls within the Democratic Caucus for Kihuen to resign, his chief of staff, Peter Koltak, sent an e-mail to all other Democratic congressional offices containing the resumes' of the entirety of Kihuen's Washington office staff, with a note that “I’m hoping to place them all here pretty quickly in other offices”.[19] At least one member of Kihuen's staff quit by the afternoon.[20]

Later in the day on December 5, Kihuen gave his first interview[21] 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".[22]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Nocera, Kate & Tarini Parti (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). leg.state.nv.us/. Carson City, NV: Nevada Legislature. 2011. p. 26. 
  4. ^ "Details". state.nv.us. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ Karoun Demirjian. "Dina Titus being pressured not to run for 1st Congressional District seat". LasVegasSun.com. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  6. ^ Karoun Demirjian. "Ruben Kihuen drops out of CD1 race, clearing way for Dina Titus". LasVegasSun.com. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  7. ^ Myers, Laura (March 28, 2015). "Nevada Sen. Ruben Kihuen announces bid for Congress". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ Marin, Lesley (June 14, 2016). "Ruben Kihuen wins Democratic nomination for Congressional District 4". KTNV. Retrieved June 16, 2016. 
  9. ^ Pathe, Simone (July 25, 2016). "Hispanic House Recruit Gets Prominent Speaking Slot at DNC". Roll Call. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Politically Connected PR Firm Subpoenaed in Councilman Probe". CBS. The Associated Press. September 29, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Nevada U.S. House 4th District Results: Ruben Kihuen Wins". The New York Times. November 9, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Nash, Greg. "Second woman accuses Rep. Kihuen of sexual misconduct". The Hill. Washington, D.C.date=December 13, 2017: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved December 13, 2017. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Nocera, Kate. "Nancy Pelosi Calls On Rep. Ruben Kihuen To Resign Following Sexual Harassment Allegations". BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  15. ^ Ralston, Jon. "The short, now-unhappy political career of Ruben Kihuen". The Nevada Independent. The Nevada Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  16. ^ Caygle, Heather. "Freshman Democrat urged to resign after sexual harassment allegations". Politico. Politico. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  17. ^ Ralston, Jon. "The short, now-unhappy political career of Ruben Kihuen". The Nevada Independent. The Nevada Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  18. ^ Rindels, Michelle. "Former staffer accuses Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen of sexual harassment; top Dems, including Pelosi and Rosen, call for resignation". The Nevada Independent. The Nevada Independent. Retrieved 11 December 2017. 
  19. ^ Caygle, Heather. "Kihuen aides seek new jobs after sexual harassment accusation". Politico. Politico. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  20. ^ Martin, Gary. "Pressure for Kihuen to resign mounts after Conyers steps down". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  21. ^ 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 6 December 2017. 
  22. ^ Bruce, Mary. "Nevada Democrat accused of sexual misconduct says he won't resign". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 

External linksEdit