A group of eight Republican House members called for cleaning house in the chamber over reports of a sexual harassment cover-up.
“We call for the immediate resignation of all members involved in the confidential settlement of allegations of misconduct with legislative staff,” the eight lawmakers said in statement released late Saturday. ”We likewise call for the resignation of any House member or LRC staff that participated in, or in any way abided in the underlying conduct or sought to intimidate staff, or otherwise obstruct the reporting or publication of the alleged misconduct.”
Kentucky House Republicans Robert J. Benvenuti, Joe Fischer, Kim King, Stan Lee, Tim Moore, Phil Mofffett, Russell Webber, and Addia Wuchner issued the joint statement Saturday evening, and called for anyone with knowledge of or involvement with the allegations to resign.
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The statement comes after Courier Journal was the first to report that House Speaker Jeff Hoover secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation by a woman on his legislative staff, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because they fear reprisal.
Sources with knowledge of the settlement told Courier Journal late Saturday that Rep. Jim DeCesare of Rockfield; Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge; Rep. Michael Meredith of Brownsville; and Ginger Wills, Hoover’s chief of staff, were parties to the deal along with the speaker. The sources asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
The statement shows the group of Republicans is also at odds with House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, who told reporters after a three-hour GOP House caucus meeting Friday that Hoover ”has the full support of this caucus.”
“We are shocked and angered by the allegations of sexual harassment, none of which have been denied or even disputed,” the statement said. “Contrary to what has been reported, the Representatives at issue did not have the ‘full’ support of the entire Republican caucus.”
Gov. Matt Bevin announced Saturday afternoon that he is calling for the immediate resignation of everyone who works in the legislature who has tried to hide allegations of sexual harassment.
“These alleged actions, which haven’t been denied, are reprehensible, indefensible and unacceptable,” Bevin said. “Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately. The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state.”
Hoover, however, said in a statement Saturday night that he won’t step down.
“I have no plans to resign. I am more resolved than ever to continue my work as Speaker thru the 2018 session and I will continue to speak out for all Kentuckians on issues of importance.”
Reach Reporter Thomas Novelly at 502-582-4465 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @TomNovelly.
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