Hearing to Determine If Four Kentucky GOP Lawmakers Violated Ethics Code
A hearing in Frankfort Tuesday will determine if four Kentucky lawmakers committed ethics violations when they privately settled sexual harassment allegations last fall.
The Legislative Ethics Commission will consider a complaint brought by a Democratic lawmaker against four Republican state representatives. Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover from Jamestown, Jim DeCesare of Rockfield, Michael Meredith of Oakland, and Brian Linder from Dry Ridge gave an undisclosed amount of money to a female legislative staffer to settle allegations of sexual harassment.
Hoover has denied sexual harassment, but admitted to sending inappropriate but consensual text messages. He resigned as speaker in January but remains in office.
John Schaaf, executive director of the Legislative Ethics Commission, says the seven-member panel hearing the case can issue a range of punishments.
"That person could be fined or reprimanded publicly or privately," Schaaf told WKU Public Radio. "The commission could make a recommendation to the House that they be sanctioned in some way like removal from a committee all the way up to recommending they be expelled."
Schaaf says an expulsion would require a vote by the full House of Representatives.
The Legislative Ethics Commission met four years ago to consider sexual harassment allegations against then-House member John Arnold who later resigned from office.
Commission members are appointed to four-year terms by the leaders of the state House or Senate.
Schaaf says four on the current panel were appointed by Senate President Robert Stivers, two by former House Speaker Greg Stumbo, and one was a joint-appointee of Stivers and Stumbo. No one on the commission was appointed by former House Speaker Jeff Hoover who is the subject of Tuesday's hearing.
Tuesday's hearing is open to the public and begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Capitol Annex.