8 GOP lawmakers ask for Kentucky House speaker's removal

Eight Republican lawmakers have asked for Kentucky's GOP House speaker to be removed from office after he secretly settled a sexual harassment complaint with a female legislative aide.

The formal disciplinary charges filed Wednesday against Jeff Hoover include sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment and using taxpayer resources to hide the allegations from the public.

Hoover's actions, the lawmakers allege, "violated statute, brought great harm to the body's ability to conduct the people's business, and irreparably damaged the reputation of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky."

"Upon finding these charges to be true, we respectfully ask the committee to recommend the expulsion of (Hoover) from the House of Representatives," the lawmakers wrote in the complaint.

Hoover has denied sexual harassment, but said he sent inappropriate yet consensual text messages to a woman who once worked for the House Republican Caucus.

Hoover told The Associated Press he believes the complaint is motivated by politics. It was signed by Republican Rep. Phil Moffett, who Hoover said has "wanted to be speaker since he got here."

"He has been working with this small group of legislators and the executive branch for weeks in their collective effort to harm me," Hoover said. "So, I'm not surprised. They can't touch my faith, and my family and lots of friends still support me, and they will not take away my joy."

Moffett declined to respond to Hoover's comments, but said "we have a duty and a responsibility to discipline our members."

"We can't allow cover-ups and sexual harassment and hostile work environments and things like that to happen. It's absolutely unacceptable," he said.

In November, Hoover appeared to be one of dozens of powerful men across the country toppled by allegations of sexual harassment or abuse. He announced he would resign as speaker but keep his seat in the legislature. But Tuesday, Hoover said he was only temporarily stepping aside as speaker "until further notice," leaving open the possibility he could return to power.

The settlement signed by Hoover and three other Republican lawmakers was handled outside of court and paid for with private money to avoid publicity. But the Courier Journal exposed the settlement, creating an uproar in a state that was transitioning to Republican rule after decades of dominance by Democrats.

The complaint was signed by Moffett and fellow Republican state Reps. Addia Wuchner, Kim King, Russell Webber, Stan Lee, Robert Benvenuti, Tim Moore and Joe Fischer. It says Hoover sent text messages to the woman requesting photos of her in a "black lace g string," saying they were "for my eyes only" and promising to delete them.

It also says Hoover created a hostile work environment by using his office to "conduct interviews and intimidate witnesses (who) had knowledge of his illicit relationship."

The complaint was filed under new House rules adopted Tuesday, which require a special committee of three Republicans and three Democrats to investigate. Republican Rep. Jerry Miller, as chairman of the State Government Committee, will chair the special committee and will only vote to break a tie.

"It's not my intention to drag it on a day longer than it has to," Miller said.

House Republican Caucus spokeswoman Daisy Olivo has filed a lawsuit claiming Hoover and the woman involved in the settlement had "physical, sexual encounters" and that he used money from prominent political donors to pay for the settlement. But the woman, through her attorney, said none of that was true. Hoover has also denied having a sexual relationship with the woman.

Hoover and the other Republican lawmakers who signed the settlement say a confidentiality clause prevents them from discussing it publicly. House GOP leaders have asked the Legislative Ethics Commission to use its subpoena power to determine if lawmakers used money from political donors or registered lobbyists to pay the settlement, which could violate state law.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has publicly urged Hoover to give up his position as speaker and his seat in the legislature. Bevin told a WKYX radio on Tuesday he still expects Hoover to resign this week.

"Well he's very misinformed, but beyond that I'm not going to say anything," Hoover said.

A spokeswoman for Bevin did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Nation World

Battle heats up over how Ohio should draw congressional district lines
Battle heats up over how Ohio should draw congressional district lines

Rather than fix a broken system, a plan backed by Republican state lawmakers will make certain Ohio voters get gerrymandered congressional districts for years to come, according to grassroots groups that are pushing a vastly different reform package. The groups — Common Cause Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio NAACP — came...
2 months and $20K later, Northwestern superintendent still on leave
2 months and $20K later, Northwestern superintendent still on leave

The Northwestern Local superintendent has been paid more than $20,400 since he was told not to come to work in late November, according to the district. Jessie Steiner was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 21 but had been paid not to report to work since Nov. 27. He remains on leave and no school board members could provide any timeline for...
Cigarette butt leads to arrest after robbery during Hurricane Irma
Cigarette butt leads to arrest after robbery during Hurricane Irma

A cigarette butt left at a home that was burglarized during Hurricane Irma led to the arrest of a Florida woman and her alleged accomplice, sheriff officials said. Cassandra Taylor, 32, was arrested after deputies said she burglarized and ransacked a DeLeon Springs home on Billings Avenue in Volusia County last Sept. during the emergency evacuation...
Amazon debuts cashier-less Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle
Amazon debuts cashier-less Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle

More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon opened its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store in Seattle Monday. The store on the bottom floor of Amazon’s headquarters billed itself as grocery shopping for the future. It has no registers and no cashiers. >> Read more trending news  Shoppers have to download...
Ohio inmate wants to be killed by firing squad
Ohio inmate wants to be killed by firing squad

Attorneys for a condemned killer whose execution was stopped last year after 25 minutes of unsuccessful needle sticks are once again recommending the firing squad as an alternative. The execution could also proceed if the state adopts a closely regulated lethal injection process that includes a headpiece to monitor the brain activity of death row inmate...
More Stories