SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Chris Stewart called for the names of all members of Congress accused of sexual misconduct to be released Tuesday.
The Utah Republican also wants any settlements lawmakers have made as a result of that misconduct disclosed to the public.
"The American people deserve the utmost level of transparency," Stewart said in one of two tweets.
"All Americans are disturbed and disappointed as we learned how pervasive sexual harassment has been in some parts of our culture. It is never appropriate and must be challenged at every level. That is especially true of members of Congress," he also posted on Twitter.
Stewart said the congressional compliance office has "hundreds and hundreds" of settlements it has kept private over the past 20 years, including some for sexual harassment.
"In the environment we find ourselves in, it's clearly pervasive in some cultures, in some workplace areas. I think Congress needs to hold itself to the highest standard, and that is we be very, very transparent about any kind of settlements that were made for sexual harassment," he said.
Stewart's call came as the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other top Democrats called for the probe.
Buzzfeed first reported Tuesday that Conyers, 88, settled a wrongful termination claim in 2015 with a former staff member who alleged she was fired after refusing his advances. Conyers said he would cooperate with the investigation.
Two women have accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of inappropriately touching them. One of the alleged incidents occurred before he became a senator and the other after he was elected. Franken faces a potential Senate Ethics Committee investigation.20 comments on this story
"It's on everyone's mind now," Stewart said. "You can't pick up the newspaper or listen to the radio and not hear another person who was accused (of) — and in many cases admitted to — treating their female employees in a horrible way."
Stewart said he recognizes that some people are accused unfairly and in some cases targeted as a public figure. But even so, he said, they need to defend themselves in the court of public opinion.
"I think we need to be fair to everyone and not presume guilt, but once again, I think the key to this is transparency," he said.