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House members keep pressure on Hoover sexual harassment scandal during session

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The second day of the House’s session began with Democrats criticizing the abuse of power wielded by Republican Speaker Jeff Hoover and three other GOP lawmakers in a recent sexual harassment scandal and then the body abruptly adjourned with charges filed in a complaint by eight members of Hoover’s own party against him — calling for his expulsion.

Rumors began flying around the Capitol Wednesday morning that a complaint would be filed against Hoover.

Republican Representatives Phil Moffett of Louisville and Kim King of Harrodsburg signed the first page of the complaint requesting under the House’s new procedural rules that a committee be formed to investigate Hoover’s actions for expulsion.

According to the complaint also signed by Reps. Addia Wuchner, Russell Webber, Robert Benvenuti, Tim Moore, Joe Fischer and Stan Lee, the lawmakers stated they believe Hoover “violated statute, brought great harm to the body’s ability to conduct the people’s business,” and that Hoover had “sexually harassed, intimidated and retaliated against Legislative Research Commission (LRC)  employees under his influence and control, and in covering up the allegations, exposed the LRC to additional litigation and liability.”

The complaint goes on to state Hoover admitted to using funds for “relief from due process in civil court,” and he has “refused to name the source or amount of such funds.” The complaint also charges the first Republican speaker of the House in almost 100 years had:

• used his Capitol Annex office to interview and intimidate witnesses;

• allowed his private attorney to use the office space for his own private personal benefit;

• paid a LRC staffer in the Speaker’s Office to gather information and intimidate witnesses while an LRC employee.

Democrat House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook told members of the press upon adjournment that he had heard of the complaint, but had not seen an official copy.

As per the new rules, Adkins will choose three Democrats to sit on a committee with three Republicans to review the charges and evidence brought against Hoover.

“It’s a cloud over this chamber. That’s the reason that our Democratic membership — our caucus — believes Speaker Jeff Hoover should step aside and allow a structured leadership to be put into place to be able to operate correctly and with the institutional knowledge it needs to move forward ” Adkins said.

“There’s no question that we have very professional people in our caucus, those with very good legal minds, that we will be looking to be on this committee and... with the fairness it needs. Our members will be pushing for the evidence to come forward and move as quickly along as possible.”

Republican House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell must also appoint three Republicans to the panel, and in the event of a tie, the chair of the State Government Committee will cast the final vote.

Legislators spent the morning hours attending mandatory ethics and sexual harassment training. Afterwards, Hoover gave an on-camera interview with WKYT saying he didn’t think it appropriate for him to resign at this time.

Lexington Democrat Rep. Kelly Flood began the second day of the House’s session expressing her thoughts on the training and Hoover saying when legislators are imbued with power to legislate, “power to ask people to give them money, power to decide how we feed our children, school them... how we take care of each other — that power can and often is channeled for good,” Flood said. “I felt today that we as a body don’t value or appreciate that power dynamic.”

Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, said it is time the body clean up such behavior once and for all and that ethics should override scandal. Victims, Kay said, victims should not pay the price for sexual harassment.  

According to Adam Beam of the Associated Press, Moffett admitted to submitting the complaint but would not comment on it.

Chris Williams of WHAS 11 said Hoover responded in a text that he had not seen the complaint, but Hoover isn't surprised because Moffett "has wanted to be governor and speaker since he came to Frankfort." According to Hoover,  Moffett has "been working with this small group of legislators and the executive branch for weeks in their efforts to harm me," but Moffett nor "the filing of his complaint can't touch my faith, and my family and lots and lots of friends still support me."