Kentucky GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigned from his leadership position last month after it came out that he had settled a sexual harassment claim with a female staffer using taxpayer money. There's only one problem as the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly session got underway last week: Jeff Hoover was still House Speaker. On Monday, Hoover finally resigned, but only after a 20-minute tirade where he declared himself the real victim.
Oh, and he's staying in the KY House.
On Monday, after vacillating for weeks about whether to step down, Hoover announced in a bitter and defiant speech from the House floor that he would give up his role as speaker but hang onto his seat in the legislature.
In remarks lasting more than 20 minutes, Hoover portrayed himself as the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy to oust him from power, accusing the governor and fellow lawmakers of lying about his actions.
With his wife of 26 years watching from the balcony, he acknowledged having traded inappropriate texts with the staffer, but denied any misconduct, saying that while the messages were ill-advised, they were consensual.
“What’s the one thing you’re most ashamed of that you have done in the past five years?” Hoover asked the chamber. “What if you woke up one morning and that one thing that you’re sitting there thinking about was on the front page of every newspaper in this state?”
His voice quavered as he explained how the scandal had impacted him and his family, saying he had lost 33 pounds in the span of four weeks because he couldn’t eat.
“I laid on my couch day after day after day in the fetal position,” he said. “I got down on the floor when no one was at home, crying uncontrollably and screaming out to almighty god to help me through this situation and to help my family and my daughters. I went into depression. I went into isolation.”
In defying calls to quit the House entirely, Hoover stands as something of an exception among the dozens of powerful men in government, media and entertainment who have been toppled by sexual misconduct claims in recent months. Many have been fired or forced to resign as a growing wave of women, and some men, have come forward with allegations of rape, assault and harassment.
Unfortunately there's not a lot Kentucky Dems can do at this point. Indeed, the state party is crumbling in the House as major retirements are starting to mount. GOP Gov. Matt Bevin still believes Hoover should leave the House as well as the remaining GOP leadership in the Kentucky House and Senate, but that seems very unlikely now.
Oh, and let's not forget Hoover is an awful human being.