Thursday, November 23, 2017

The True Story of the First Thanksgiving


What you didn’t learn in school

The story of the Pilgrims began in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone who did not recognize its absolute authority.
Those who demanded freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs.
A small group of separatists fled to Holland, where they established an outpost.
A decade later, about forty of the separatists decided to embark on a perilous journey to the New World, where they could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail carrying a total of  102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford.
On the journey, Bradford set up a contract that established laws that would govern the new settlement. The values and principles set forth in the Mayflower Compact were derived from the Bible.
Because of an unshakable belief in Divine Providence, the Pilgrims never doubted that their bold experiment would succeed. But their journey to the New World was long and arduous.
When they landed in America, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold and desolate wilderness.
There were no friends to greet them, he wrote, or houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could find temporary lodging, and no trading posts where they could buy food and other necessities. The numerous hardships they would encounter in the name of religious freedom were just beginning.
During the first winter, half of the Pilgrims – including Bradford's wife – perished from starvation, sickness or exposure.
When spring came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved on the margins, but the colony was still a long way from assured survival.
The original contract that the Pilgrims entered into with their merchant sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, with each member of the settlement entitled to one common share.
All land they cleared and houses they built belonged to the community.
The plan was to distribute everything equally.
No colony member owned anything beyond a proportionate share of the common output. 
Under this communal living arrangement, the colony’s most industrious members lacked incentive to produce as much as they could.
Soon, it became obvious that the collectivist system was not yielding enough food.
Faced with mass starvation, Bradford decided on bold action, and assigned each family its own plot of land.
With private property rights and personal incentive in play, food production began to soar.
The Pilgrims scrapped the collectivist system that almost led  to their demise.
What Bradford wrote about the colony’s near-disastrous experiment in communal living should be taught to every child in America:
"'…. this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and to retard much employment that would otherwise have been to its benefit and comfort. Young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine [complain] that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without compensation.”
 
Under the new arrangement, every family was permitted to sell its excess crops and other products.
The result?
'This had very good success”, wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands industrious, so more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”
With an abundance of food at hand, the Pilgrims set up trading posts and began to exchange goods with the Indians.
The profits they earned enabled them to pay off their debts to their sponsors. News of the settlement’s prosperity attracted other Europeans, and precipitated what came to be known as the Great Puritan Migration.
Many of America’s schools incorrectly teach that the first Thanksgiving was an occasion where grateful Pilgrims thanked the Indians for saving them from starvation.
But the true story of Thanksgiving is that of William Bradford giving thanks not to the Indians, but  to God, for the guidance and inspiration to establish a thriving colony, one that enabled the Pilgrims to generously share their plentiful bounty with their Indian neighbors at that first Thanksgiving.
 
Omitted in many classrooms is the historical fact that it was not Indians who saved the Pilgrims. Rather, it was free enterprise capitalism and Scripture, the latter of which was acknowledged by George Washington in his Thanksgiving Proclamation issued on the 3rd day of October, 1789.
America was founded on an unshakable belief in Divine Providence. 

Courtesy of the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, owned and operated by radio commentator Rush Limbaugh 

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The Desolate Wilderness

 
Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:
So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.
When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.
The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.
Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.
Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.
If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.
This editorial has appeared annually since 1961. It appeared in the November 22, 2017, print edition.


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 We Can Still Learn from the Pilgrims' Gratitude

An undatged photo showing the shelter that showcases the famous Plymouth Rock which marks the supposed spot where the first Puritan Pilgrims landed in America in 1620 in Plymouth, Mass. (Marcio Silva/Dreamstime)  

By Jerry Newcombe
With another Thanksgiving holiday upon us, it's good to consider what the Pilgrims endured and how they thanked God through it all.
I just finished reading a phenomenal book on the group of dissident Christians who founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Historian Rod Gragg wrote "The Pilgrim Chronicles: An Eyewitness history of the Pilgrims and the Founding of Plymouth Colony" (Regnery History, 2014).
I thought I knew a lot about the Pilgrims, but this book added greatly to my knowledge.
The Pilgrims were one congregation that was born in mid-England around 1606 at a time where church meetings, apart from the Church of England, were illegal. Their goal was to worship Jesus in the purity of the Gospel as they understood it. The Bible (Geneva version) was the focus of their existence.
Because of persecution in England, they decided to emigrate to Holland; but even leaving the mother country was problematic. A sea captain betrayed them, and several of their men ended up in an English jail. About 1609, they were able to finally make it to Holland.
Initially, the Netherlands was a good place for them. At least they could worship without government interference. But over time, they saw that some of their children were following the ways of the worldly Dutch youth. Meanwhile, the permanency of the Jamestown settlement in the New World allowed them to explore the possibility of coming to America to stay intact as a congregation and be able to worship Jesus in peace.
They borrowed money, and they received permission from King James, who was glad to be rid of them, to sail to the "northern parts of Virginia," which at that time that would have been about where New York Harbor is today.
The voyage of the Mayflower was treacherous. One storm was so fierce they almost ended up on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.
When they finally came to the New World, they were 250 miles north of their target and unable to safely sail south. They made history by writing up a Christian agreement for self-government that they signed before disembarking. This "Mayflower Compact" was the first step in the eventual creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution 150 years later.
Then came the hostile winter of 1620-1621, where illness, cold, and starvation killed about half of them. They slept mostly onboard the Mayflower, having little opportunity to build houses in the howling winter.
Of the 18 women on board the Mayflower, only four survived that winter. Half of the married men died. There were 29 unmarried men — of these, 10 died, 19 survived. The children had the best survival rate. All seven girls lived. Of the 13 boys, three died, and 10 lived. Yet through it all, they trusted God, giving him thanks.
The spring came early in 1621, and the deaths stopped. Two friendly Indians, able to speak English, came and greeted them. They aided them in making peace with the Indians, and learn how to plant corn and capture eels for survival food.
The Pilgrims enjoyed a great relationship with the Native Americans — including making a peace treaty, one lasting for apprximately 55 years. It was brokered by Chief Massasoit.
At harvest time in 1621, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and enjoyed a three-day feast with the Indians. This was the beginning of our Thanksgiving celebration in America.
Gragg quotes John Pory, a scholar from England who had served in the colony of Virginia, who was on his way back to England. Having visited Plymouth in 1622, Pory wrote, "the reasons of their continual plenty for those 7 months in the year may be the continual tranquility of the place, being guarded on all sides from the fury of the storms, as also the abundance of food they find at low water.  . . . Now as concerning the quality of the people, how happy were it for our people [in Virginia], if they were as free from wickedness and vice as these are in this place.  . . . As touching their correspondence with the Indians, they are friends with all their neighbors."
Gragg also quotes Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow, who declared, "[N]one will ever be losers by following us so far as we follow Christ.”
Rod Gragg (at page 288) concludes on the Pilgrims’ settlement, "And they had succeeded. No one in Ameratica would be raiding their Sunday services to stop their worship. Neither would they be hauled off to jail because of their beliefs, nor ever again forced to flee their homes because of their faith. And the way of freedom they had blazed in the wilds of the New World would eventually become the path of liberty for countless people from around the world: people yearning for a new life, a new start, a new home — and who would find it as Americans."
Jerry Newcombe is co-host/senior TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including "The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas" (with Mark Beliles), "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?" (With D. James Kennedy), and "George Washington's Sacred Fire" (with Peter Lillback).


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Christmas Gift Idea For Your Children Or Grandchildren

Rush Limbaugh is author of a series of best-selling books for children that correct revisionist history taught in public school classrooms by progressive teachers. The cover of the first book in the series is shown below.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims
 
#1 best-seller in all categories, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Great Christmas gift for children.

Buy at Walmart.com for $12.44.

Buy 3-book hardcover series here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hell Is Getting Crowded for Liberal Hypocrites

By Clarence McKee



Democratic Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned Tuesday after more allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced in what is becoming a disturbing pattern of Democratic politicians involved in crimes and allegations of child sexual abuse – scandals largely ignored by the media.

 
That so-called special place in hell is getting a bit crowded.

Remember when former Secretary of State Madelyn Albright introduced Hillary Clinton at an event in New Hampshire last year, tellng the crowd that "there was a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other?" The phrase is catching on!
Ivanka Trump, speaking about the sexual abuse allegations against Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, told the Associated Press that there’s a "special place in hell for people who prey on children . . . "
And then there is former Clinton adviser and Democratic strategist Doug Schoen who said that there was "a special place in hell" for Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who, after accepting endorsements, funding, and support from the Clintons — and assuming Clinton’s Senate seat — recently said that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after the affair with Monica Lewinsky.
If Gillibrand deserved a special place in hell for being ungrateful to the Clintons, why not LaVar Ball, father of UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, one of the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting, who were released after President Trump intervened with Chinese President Xi.
Ball said that Trump didn’t deserve any credit for getting his son and his two teammates released; and, that if he was "going to thank somebody, I’d probably thank President Xi."
Talk about ingratitude. No wonder Trump called him an "ungrateful fool."
He should talk to the family of American college student Otto Warmbier who died a few days after returning home in a vegetative state coma from North Korean detention.
As my friend Richie said, Ball’s son’s conduct shows how "horrible a job he did as a father in raising a son who grew up thinking it was okay to steal. He should be thanking the president!"
Many would argue that, if any group merits a reserved seat in that "special place," it is those feminists and left-wing women who looked the other way when any of their liberal male politicos were accused of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Silence was and is the rule!
The National Organization of Women (NOW) and other women’s groups did not go on the warpath against Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., for his philandering, including being involved in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. They were also silent during the travails of former President Bill Clinton and the many allegations of sexual misconduct including the Lewinsky affair.
 
And, note that they have not called for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., based on the allegations of sexual misconduct by two women.
It’s a virtual certainty that they will not call for the resignation of Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the longest serving member in the U.S. House and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, as has his hometown paper the Detroit Free Press, for allegations of sexual misconduct. And of course, they would not dare attack or criticize a black liberal Democrat.
You can also be assured that the most vocal female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who are so high and mighty against Trump Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and the Democrats’ favorite diva Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will remain silent on their Caucus colleague.
In that regard, we have not heard any outrage from the 16 female Democrats in the U.S. Senate regarding the allegations against their colleague Mr. Franken.
Those who would usually be running to the microphones and cameras to attack a conservative or Republican accused of such conduct to bolster their illusionary hopes for a chance at a 2020 nomination have run for the door — Gillibrand, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Of course, let’s keep in mind that feminists and liberal Democrats will tolerate almost anything from a male politician as long as he supports abortions or partial birth abortions. Enter Alabama Democratic Senate candidate and abortion supporter Doug Jones!
That’s why many would agree that they deserve that special place in hell for their hypocrisy on such an important life and death issue — the killing of innocent, unborn children.
Finally, as we enter the home-stretch on tax reform, we will see how many Senate Republicans will deprive the nation of over-due and well-deserved tax reform to foster economic growth and job creation.
To those who do, there will be a special kind of place for them, maybe not in the hell as discussed above, but in every politician’s form of hell — defeat at the ballot box.

Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns. He is a former co-owner of WTVT-TV in Tampa and former president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.
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Playboy Ethics, Puritan Consequences in the Year of Sex Scandals

 
 
2017 may go down as the year that sexual scandals rocked America.

The thing about a charge of rape, said 17th century British judge Sir Matthew Hale, is that it ‘‘is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused” — even if that party is innocent. It is an excruciating dilemma. Most such crimes occur in private. And yet false charges are also sometimes made. How do we give proper due process to the accused while showing compassion to victims?
But one thing that troubles me about all this is that Hollywood and the culture do so much to promote an immoral sexual ethic.
Pop music and movies and TV routinely promote sex outside of God-given marital boundaries. Then when someone engages in these activities, especially if they want to run for office, they are besmirched by this.
I think what we are seeing in some ways is this: Playboy ethics, but Puritan consequences. We are constantly bombarded with messages to do whatever feels good. Then if someone does it, he suddenly faces censure.
We teach young people today how to put condoms on cucumbers in schools, but then we frown at teenage illegitimacy.
The pop culture revels in sexual immorality. In one of her songs, Madonna croons, “If it’s against the law, arrest me. If you can handle it, undress me.”
Not to be outdone, Lady Gaga sings, “But I got a reason that you're who should take me home tonight. I need a man that makes it right when it's so wrong.”
We routinely see sex outside of marriage on the big screen and the little one. In 1995, Don Wildmon, of the American Family Association, complained that 88 percent of sexual activity in prime-time television was between unmarried people — thus, making “lust more attractive than love.”
If it was that bad in 1995, it’s only worse in 2017 — since marriage as a whole continues to suffer significantly in our culture.
Of course, just because we’re bombarded with these messages doesn’t excuse anybody from giving into his or her base nature or from making unwanted sexual advances.
One of the sacred cows of the Playboy ethic on sex is that anything goes as long as it’s between two consenting adults. But the “consenting adults” principle still doesn’t halt the consequences of promiscuity, such as a failed marriage, a broken heart, venereal disease, or scandal.
Why do we have the Puritan consequences to sexual practices? I believe our forebears were on to something with their belief that sex was to remain within its God-given strictures: inside the bounds of holy matrimony (of course, between a man and a woman). When we venture outside of God’s boundaries, we go against the order He designed for our safety and flourishing.
We may mock monogamy all we want, but interestingly, a major study on sex in America in 1992, under the auspices of the University of Chicago, found that the Puritan-type ethic of sex promotes happiness in the bedroom to its adherents.
They reported, “Once again contradicting the common view of marriage as dull and routine, the people who reported being the most physically pleased and emotionally satisfied were the married couples .... The lowest rates of satisfaction were among men and women who were neither married nor living with someone — the very group thought to be having the hottest sex” (Sex in America, p. 124).
The Bible admonishes us to avoid even the appearance of evil. So tell me — why is it that some in our culture were wagging their tongues at Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to go out in public alone with women that weren’t a part of his immediate family?
This culture encourages you to freely let your libido flow — but then when you do, you might end up being punished for it. Playboy ethics, Puritan consequences. But as Jesus put it, let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Jerry Newcombe is co-host/senior TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including "The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas" (with Mark Beliles), "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?" (With D. James Kennedy), and "George Washington's Sacred Fire" (with Peter Lillback).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Charlie Rose fired by CBS, PBS and Bloomberg over sexual misconduct allegations

By Daniella Silva and Kalhan Rosenblatt


Talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose was fired Tuesday by CBS News, PBS and Bloomberg in the wake of eight women accusing him of sexual harassment and unwanted advances in a report in The Washington Post.

"A short time ago we terminated Charlie Rose's employment with CBS News, effective immediately," said a statement posted to Twitter from CBS News President David Rhodes. "This followed the revelation yesterday of extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior said to have revolved around his PBS program."
In a statement, PBS also announced it had ended its relationship with Rose, whose self-titled interview show began airing in 1991.
"In light of yesterday’s revelations, PBS has terminated its relationship with Charlie Rose and cancelled distribution of his programs. PBS expects all the producers we work with to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect," PBS said.
Bloomberg TV confirmed it had severed ties with Rose, but had no further comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
The claims made against Rose, 75, in The Post's report included groping female acquaintances and walking around naked in their presence. The women were either employees at the "Charlie Rose" show or aspired to work for the show in allegations spanning from the late 1990s to 2011, according to the newspaper. Three women were on the record and five were anonymous.
Two of the women The Post interviewed, Kyle Godfrey-Ryan and Megan Creydt, confirmed their accounts to NBC News on Monday night.
Early Tuesday, "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King said she was "really grappling" with the accusations against the veteran newsman, calling them "horrible."
"He doesn't get a pass because I can't stop thinking about the anguish of these women; what happened to their dignity, what happened to their bodies, what happened to maybe even their careers," King said. "I can't stop thinking about that and the pain they're going through."
King and co-host Norah O'Donnell said they had not spoken to Rose as of Tuesday morning, but planned to reach out.
"I'm still trying to process all of this," King said. "I'm still trying to sort it out because this is not the man I know, but I'm also clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and very damaged by this."
Rose on Monday released a statement apologizing for his behavior while maintaining that some of the allegations were inaccurate.
“In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,” Rose said in a statement to The Post that he later posted on Twitter. “Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues.”
"It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior,” the statement continued. “I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken."
Rose has long hosted his show, which airs on PBS, and is also a co-host of "CBS This Morning" and a contributing correspondent for "60 Minutes."
By Monday evening, representatives from CBS News said Rose was suspended while they looked into the matter, while representatives from PBS and Bloomberg said they were suspending distribution of his show.
"I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too," Rose said in his statement. "All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives."
The five women who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity did so over fears of Rose’s stature in the media industry.
A woman who was one of Rose’s assistants during the mid-2000s, Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, told The Post that Rose allegedly walked naked in front of her at least a dozen times while she was working in one of his homes in New York City. She also said Rose called her repeatedly late at night or early in the morning to ask her about her sex life and describe a “very specific, repetitive fantasy” of her disrobing and swimming naked in a pool at his suburban home in Bellport, New York, as he watched. She was in her early 20s at the time.
“It feels branded into me, the details of it,” Godfrey-Ryan told the paper.
The Post said that in addition to the eight women, the newspaper spoke to about two dozen former employees of Rose on condition of anonymity and that six said they had seen what they considered to be harassment, and eight said they were not comfortable with the host’s treatment of his female employees.
Another 10 said they had not witnessed or heard anything concerning about Rose, according to The Post.
The women ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged incidents, according to The Post.
Rose's show was produced by independent television production company Charlie Rose Inc., aired on PBS and was filmed at Bloomberg headquarters. PBS, CBS and Bloomberg told The Post they had no record of sexual harassment complaints against Rose.
A PBS spokesperson said the channel "does not fund this nightly program or supervise its production, but we expect our producers to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect."
Two women who spoke to The Post said they had complained to Rose's executive producer, Yvette Vega, about the alleged inappropriate behavior.
Vega said in a statement to The Post that she should have stood up for the women.
"I failed," said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. "It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them."
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She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.


Alex Wong / Getty Images
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.
Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.
The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.
Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
After this an employee can choose to take the matter to federal district court, but another avenue is available: an administrative hearing, after which a negotiation and settlement may follow.
Some members of Congress have raised major concerns with the current system over the years, but the calls for an overhaul have grown louder in the post-Weinstein era. Members have argued that 90 days is too long to make a person continue working in the same environment with their harasser; that interns and fellows should be eligible to pursue complaints through this process; and that it is unfair for a victim to have to pay for legal representation while the office of the harasser is represented for free by the House's counsel.

In this case, one of Conyers’ former employees was offered a settlement, in exchange for her silence, that would be paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget. His office would “rehire” the woman as a “temporary employee” despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work, according to the document. The complainant would receive a total payment of $27,111.75 over the three months, after which point she would be removed from the payroll, according to the document.
 

The draft agreement viewed by BuzzFeed News was unsigned, but congressional employment records match the timing and amounts outlined in the document. The woman left the office and never went public with her story.
The process was “disgusting,” said Matthew Peterson, who worked as a law clerk representing the complainant, and who listed as a signatory to some of the documents.
“It is a designed cover-up,” said Peterson, who declined to discuss details of the case but agreed to characterize it in general terms. “You feel like they were betrayed by their government just for coming forward. It’s like being abused twice.”
Other lawyers named as representing the accuser could not be reached for comment. The Office of Compliance did not confirm or deny that it had dealt with the case.
“Pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act, the OOC cannot comment on whether matters have or have not been filed with the office,” Laura Cech, publications and outreach manager of the Office of Compliance, told BuzzFeed News in an email when asked to comment on this case.
Two staffers alleged in their signed affidavits that Conyers used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with. Another said she was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.
Rep. Conyers did not admit fault as part of the settlement. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday.
The documents were first provided to BuzzFeed News by Mike Cernovich, the men's rights figure turned pro-Trump media activist who propagated a number of false conspiracy theories including the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Cernovich said he gave the documents to BuzzFeed News for vetting and further reporting, and because he said if he published them himself, Democrats and congressional leaders would “try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger.” He provided them without conditions. BuzzFeed News independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents with four people directly involved with the case, including the accuser.
In her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.
She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.
In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”
“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.
Three other staff members provided affidavits submitted to the Office Of Compliance that outlined a pattern of behavior from Conyers that included touching the woman in a sexual manner and growing angry when she brought her husband around.
One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)
The employee said in her affidavit that Conyers also made sexual advances toward her: “I was driving the Congressman in my personal car and was resting my hand on the stick shift. Rep. Conyers reached over and began to caress my hand in a sexual manner.”
The woman said she told Conyers she was married and not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit. She said she was told many times by constituents that it was well-known that Conyers had sexual relationships with his staff, and said she and other female staffers felt this undermined their credibility.
“I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers,” she said in her affidavit.
A male employee wrote that he witnessed Rep. Conyers rub the legs and other body parts of the complainant “in what appeared to be a sexual manner” and saw the congressman rub and touch other women “in an inappropriate manner.” The employee said he confronted Conyers about this behavior.
“Rep. Conyers said he needed to be ‘more careful’ because bad publicity would not be helpful as he runs for re-election. He ended the conversation with me by saying he would ‘work on’ his behavior,” the male staffer said in his affidavit.
The male employee said that in 2011 Conyers complained a female staffer was “too old” and said he wanted to let her go. The employee said he set up a meeting in December 2011 to discuss “mistreatment of staff and his misuse of federal resources.” The affidavit says that Conyers “agreed that he would work on making improvements as long as I worked directly with him and stopped writing memos and emails about concerns.”
Another female employee also attested that she witnessed Conyer’s advances, and said she was asked to transport women to him. “I was asked on multiple occasions to pick up women and bring them to Mr. Conyers['] apartment, hotel rooms, etc.”
BuzzFeed News reached out to several former Conyers staffers, all of whom did not want to speak on the record. One former staffer, who did not want to be named, said she was frustrated by the secretive complaint process.
“I don’t think any allegations should be buried...and that’s for anyone, not just for this particular office, because it doesn’t really allow other people to see who these individuals are,” said the former staffer. “When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”
Another staffer said Conyers’ reputation made people fearful to speak out against him. Aside from being the longest-serving House member and the ranking member of a powerful committee, Conyers is a civil rights icon. He was lauded by Martin Luther King Jr. and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Your story won’t do shit to him,” said the staffer. “He’s untouchable.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was not aware of the settlement.
“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi said in the statement. “I strongly support her efforts.”

BuzzFeed News; Source: Office of Compliance

"Speaker Boehner was not aware of this," Dave Schnittger, a spokesperson for John Boehner, told BuzzFeed News in an email Tuesday. Boehner was the speaker of the House when the settlement was made.
Speaker Paul Ryan's called the story "extremely troubling" in a statement the morning after the story broke.
"A Committee hearing last week examining this issue led to a new policy of mandatory training for all members and staff," Ryan said. "Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review. People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination.”
The documents also show that there was a belief among at least some staffers that the office was a jealous environment. Some of the documents allege Conyers offered his protection when staff would complain to him about management in the office.
 
Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

Rep. Jackie Speier speaks during a House Administration Committee hearing on preventing sexual harassment in the congressional workplace, November 14.
California Democrat Rep. Speier and colleagues in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would overhaul the complaint process, including requiring the Office of Compliance to publicly name the office of any member who enters into a settlement. The bill would also allow complainants to waive mediation and counseling, set up a victims' counsel, and require all congressional offices to go through harassment training every year.
Conyers’ office has a history of ethical run-ins. In 2016, his former chief of staff Cynthia Martin pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property after she refused to reimburse $16,500 that was mistakenly deposited in her account. A preliminary investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics found that Conyers continued to pay Martin more than $13,000 per month when she was supposedly on unpaid leave.
In 2006, two former aides complained that Conyers made them babysit his children, run errands, and work on his reelection campaign while drawing their congressional salaries. There was also a bizarre incident in 2005 when 60 Thanksgiving turkeys, given to his staff to disperse to people, may have gone missing.
Conyers’ wife, former Detroit city councilor Monica Conyers, was sentenced to three years in prison over bribery charges in 2010. (One of the documents alleged Conyers began “aggressively acting out his sexual harassment behavior” following this.) Last year the couple renewed their vows.