Jeff Hoover resigned his post as speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Sunday, a day after defiantly rejecting calls to step down by Gov. Matt Bevin and others who said they were disgusted by allegations of sexual harassment against Hoover and three other GOP lawmakers.
A tearful Hoover, with family members looking on, acknowledged that he had “engaged in inappropriate text messages” with a legislative staffer in his office and asked the people of Kentucky “to forgive me for my actions.”
A Jamestown attorney who has been in the House since 1997, Hoover said he never engaged in “unwelcome or unwanted conduct” and “at no time were there ever any sexual relations of any kind.”
Hoover, who was elected in January as the first Republican House speaker since 1921, said that he and the three other lawmakers “absolutely and expressly denied that any sexual harassment had taken place.”
He said he would stay on as representative of the 83rd House District, which includes Clinton, Cumberland, Russell and part of Pulaski counties.
A joint statement from the other House GOP leaders said House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne of Prospect will assume “operational control” of the House.
The House Republican leadership team said it will meet with legal counsel Monday to assess staff members mentioned in the sexual harassment scandal.
“This is an unfolding situation and no one in the Capitol has all the facts” said the leadership team.
The team also thanked Hoover for his service as speaker and for agreeing to resign.
“A protracted fight among the leaders of the Republican Party, entrusted by the voters to govern this state, is not in the best interest of our commonwealth,” it said.
There was no immediate comment from Bevin.
Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represented the legislative staffer who complained against Hoover, confirmed Sunday that she had entered into mediation with Hoover’s attorney and was satisfied with the outcome. He did not elaborate.
I would have liked to see Hoover lose his job altogether, but that will be up to Kentuckians in his district next November.
Also, the three other GOP state lawmakers mentioned were all three committee chairs, they will be relieved of their chairmanships pending a formal House investigation.
It also means any chance of a special legislative session for Bevin's pension grab plan is now super, super dead. Kentucky Democrats responded strongly:
It's good to see Kentucky Dems stand up for the actual victims here, the women Hoover and his gang harassed. I don't feel sorry for Hoover for one bit.
It's too much to hope for jail time, but I'd settle for these men never holding office again.