Just hours before the Mesquite Local News published an editorial calling for Rep. Ruben Kihuen to resign due to his inability to continue to serve his constituents because of his wild accusations against Democratic Party leadership, The Nevada Independent posted online a story about a Carson City lobbyist making strikingly similar allegations against Kihuen as those reported earlier by BuzzFeed.
The anonymous woman told the online, contribution-funded news outlet that during the 2015 legislative session then-state Sen. Kihuen touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent and sent her hundreds of sexually suggestive text messages, including repeated requests to spend the night with her. She said she repeatedly denied his requests.
The news account was accompanied by a lengthy blog from the site’s editor, Jon Ralston, explaining how the story was reported and why the woman was granted anonymity.
“I don’t think Ruben thinks what he did was wrong,” the news story quotes the woman as saying. “Like, I think he just thought he was playing around, which, I don’t think he realized the position he probably put people in.”
The Independent reported that it sent Kihuen’s office a list of questions about the woman’s claims. In reply, Kihuen, 37 and unmarried, did not confirm or deny anything.
“During my ten years in the Legislature, I dated several different women. Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t discuss my communications or any other details of those relationships,” the Independent quoted from Kihuen’s statement, though the woman said she never dated Kihuen.
“I never went over to his house. I never kissed him. I don’t know what his definition of dating is, but usually dating is a mutual decision between two people to do things alone, which I never, ever did with him,” she told the news outlet.
According to BuzzFeed, a female Kihuen campaign staffer quit in April 2016 shortly after the candidate started propositioning her for dates and sex despite her repeated rejections and twice touched her thighs without her consent.
The woman said the propositions became more frequent and more aggressive and Kihuen asked her if she had ever “cheated on her boyfriend.” She said the candidate offered to get them a hotel room together while campaigning and she told BuzzFeed, “I said ‘no’ very firmly and he just laughed at me. It was humiliating.”
According to the Mesquite newspaper editorial, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Ben Ray Lujan, a New Mexico congressman, both called on Kihuen to step down.
But first-term Rep. Kihuen, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid who has largely held political patronage jobs, threw mud on the leadership, saying, “I do find it interesting that the DCCC, Leader [Nancy] Pelosi and Chairman Ben Ray Lujan — they knew about these allegations last year. They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign. They went out there and campaigned for me.”
Spokesmen for Pelosi and Lujan immediately denied the claim.
Fellow Nevada Democratic Reps. Dina Titus and Jacky Rosen have called for Kihuen to leave.
The editorial said Kihuen has turned himself into a pariah in his own party, but now there is another accuser with a remarkably similar tale of callow, vulgar and socially unacceptable misbehavior.