What is it with these men in power sexually harassing those who work for them? Now that Harvey Weinstein’s victims blew the roof off of this rampant dirty secret, a prominent and powerful Kentucky Republican has had to resign.
Kentucky’s Republican House speaker, Jeff Hoover, stepped down from his leadership position after he admitted that he settled a sexual harassment case last month involving one of his staffers. The Republican said he would stay in the legislature.
After Hoover stepped down, House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne is next in line to become the acting speaker.
Of course, Hoover said that he did not sexually harass his staffer. Instead, he claimed he sent inappropriate text messages, but they were consensual.
During the press briefing, Hoover’s wife and two of his three daughters stood by his side.
The former speaker said, according to the Associate Press (AP):
‘I engaged in banter that was consensual but make no mistake it was wrong on my part to do that. And for that, I am truly sorry. I want to reiterate that at no time, at no time did I engage in unwelcome or unwanted conduct of any kind.’
Last March, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s friends and critics on the Council questioned, according to the Pensacola News Journal:
‘Why the mayor has not ordered the Louisville police department to report child abuse allegations involving officers to state authorities.’
House Speaker Jeff Hoover’s response may have been influenced by his own alleged sexually harassment of an employee:
‘(Legislators) have not yet had time to consider (the change).’
Louisville attorney for the victim, Thomas Clay, told the AP:
‘(Our client had) legitimate concerns about workplace conduct. Our client was not coerced by anyone to resolve the matter and has been satisfied with the resolution. We look forward to moving past this matter.’
The victim’s attorney sent the former House speaker a letter on October 17 that made allegations of sexual harassment against not only Hoover, but others. Several media groups identified the others as three Republican committee chairs: “Brian Linder, Michael Meredith and Jim DeCesare, according to the AP.” They also named Hoover’s chief of staff, Ginger Wills, in the claims. However, Hoover did not name the others who were allegedly involved.
A legislative official privy to a copy of the letter did verify that those names were accurate, but spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. The official had not been authorized to discuss the letter.
After Hoover received the attorney’s letter, both he and the victim’s attorney reached an agreement within about a week. The former House speaker claimed that no one admitted to doing anything wrong, and the settlement was secret.
However, The Courier-Journal did print the settlement, using anonymous sources, which is why Hoover resigned his leadership role.
In a statement, Osborne and three House GOP leaders wrote:
‘We are asking any member of the House Republican caucus who is or believes they will be implicated in this matter to inform this leadership team immediately if their name has not already surfaced in the public domain. We were blindsided but remain determined to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.’
Kentucky’s legislature is in the midst of a battle over the state’s pension system, which is in financial difficulty.
The state’s governor, Matt Bevin, proposed converting the pension system to a 401(k) program instead for public school teachers and state workers. Should this come to pass, the federal Republicans’ wish to reduce workers’ 401(k) programs in their new tax bill could play a significant role.
The Kentucky Senate has the votes to pass such a bill, but it is does not have the votes in its House.
Hoover would not vote for Kentucky’s pension system conversion bill unless legislators made changes. He is concerned about how the governor portrays the teachers and other state workers.
Hoover did not mention Bevin by name:
‘It’s fair to say I am not the favorite legislator of some in this capitol. I leave this speaker’s position with no animosity toward anyone. Not even those who have been working and conspiring for months for this result. Nor against those who have used this as an opportunity for personal selfish political gain.’
House Republican leaders said Saturday that they will hire a private law firm to investigate the sexual harassment allegations and grant them the subpoena power to call witnesses. According to a news release the next day, the investigation is ongoing.
Hoover was elected Kentucky’s House speaker in January, after Republicans took the state House. Democrats have dominated the House for nearly a century. As a result, Republicans have control of every southern state legislative chamber.
‘I have asked for and received forgiveness from God, my family, my wonderful wife, Karen, and my daughters. The decision today is what is best for Kentucky. And what is best for the House of representatives that I love and have spent 21 years here.’
The AP was unsuccessful reaching Linder, Meredith, DeCesare and Wills. The House leadership said in a news briefing:
‘(We are) removing implicated committee chairmen from their roles, pending the outcome of the investigation.’
Featured Image via Associate Press Twitter Page.