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Ky Dems Call On GOP Lawmakers To Resign Amid New Report On Sexual Assault Claims

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 16, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Leaders of the Kentucky Democratic Party on Wednesday called on two prominent GOP lawmakers to resign in the wake of explosive allegations detailed in a new media report.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting detailed allegations of sexual assault that allegedly come from a sealed deposition given by a former staffer of Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover.

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 file photo, Republican speaker of Kentucky’s House of Representatives Rep. Jeff Hoover resigns from his leadership position during a speech at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., more than two months after acknowledging he secretly settled a sexual harassment claim and paid to keep it quiet. The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission told the AP that requests for the number of complaints and related documents “do not fall within the open records law” and that they place “an unreasonable burden” upon the commission. Thus, the number of formal complaints remains officially unknown, even though plenty of sexual misconduct allegations involving the state’s lawmakers have been aired publicly. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)

 

Hoover — along with fellow GOP lawmakers Michael Meredith, Brian Linder and Jim DeCesare — signed a $110,000 sexual harassment settlement in 2017. The settlement required all parties to keep the details secret, but details later were exposed.

Linder and DeCesare did not seek re-election last year.

On Tuesday, Kentucky Democratic Party spokeswoman Marisa McNee said the leaders should resign.

“State Representatives Hoover and Meredith must resign immediately. Screaming at female staffers in public, demanding sexual favors, and harassing women repeatedly cannot be tolerated,” McNee said in a statement. “The behavior described by the woman they targeted and other witnesses is horrifying. Republican Leadership has ignored this for far too long, it is time for them to take action.”

Messages left with Hoover’s and Meredith’s offices were not immediately returned.

Kentucky Republican Party Executive Director Sarah Van Wallaghen insisted sexual harassment issues are being taken seriously by party officials.

“Sexual harassment has existed in Frankfort for decades; far pre-dating today’s Republican Leadership. Sadly, it is only now being addressed in a real and meaningful way. The problem is not partisan, it is cultural and since becoming Acting-Speaker and now Speaker of the House, David Osborne and his team have been working hard to resolve the issue by changing procedures to help report and prevent future problems,” Wallaghen said in a statement. “We applaud Speaker Osborne, the bi-partisan leadership team of the LRC and Governor Bevin and his Personnel team in the Executive Branch for their continued efforts to make Frankfort and State Government as a whole a better, safer place for its employees.”

But as the KyCIR report notes, “there’s no explicit ban on legislators sexually harassing employees.”

Democratic Rep. Kelly Flood is hoping to change that. She has filed House Bill 83, which would set up a formal process for reporting and dealing with such allegations.

“HB83 sets a path toward a safer workplace for all Capitol employees. It’s vital to get this right, right now,” Flood told LEX 18. “The public and state employees deserve to know that we legislators have their best interests at heart, and in the law.”