FBI Investigating Sexual Harassment Scandal in Kentucky Capitol
By Daniel Desrochers
The Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged Monday that it is looking into details surrounding a sexual harassment scandal in the Kentucky Capitol that led to Jeff Hoover's resignation Sunday as speaker of the House of Representatives.
"The FBI received information regarding sexual harassment and retaliation claims made by employees working in the state capitol," said David Habich, a spokesman for the FBI in Louisville. "We are reviewing that information and the allegations surrounding it to determine whether or not there is a violation of federal law."
House Republican leadership said they have not recieved any inquiries from outside law enforcement agencies.
The confirmation comes after the Herald-Leader reported Saturday that House Republican Communications Director Daisy Olivo was contacted by the FBI about the sexual harassment scandal.
Olivo told the Herald-Leader that she was isolated by Republican leaders after she reported the emotional duress of a co-worker to Hoover in early September. On Thursday, the day after she reported a "toxic" work environment in the House GOP leadership office to officials with the Legislative Research Commission, she was relieved from her duty of communicating with the press, the primary responsibility of a communications director.
State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan told the Herald-Leader Saturday that he reported the sexual harassment scandal to the FBI.
The scandal rocked the capitol this weekend, with Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, calling for the resignation of any lawmakers and staff who were involved in settling a sexual harassment claim.
Hoover and three other GOP lawmakers were accused of sexual harassment by an employee in the House Republican leadership office in a settlement demand letter sent to Hoover last month, said Olivo, who has seen the letter. The letter also accused Republican Chief of Staff Ginger Wills of creating a hostile work environment.
On Sunday, Hoover confirmed that he and others had reached a confidential settlement with the staffer following mediation. Hoover acknowledged that he exchanged "inappropriate text messages" with the accuser, but denied that he or other lawmakers sexually harassed the woman. He said there is not a culture of sexual harassment within the House Republican Caucus.
The other lawmakers named in the demand letter -- Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge; Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland and Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green -- were temporarily removed from their positions as committee chairmen by the House GOP leadership team Sunday evening, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
DeCesare, who was a member of Republican leadership before the GOP took control of the House of Representatives last November, chairs the Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment; Meredith is chairman of the Committee on Local Government, and Linder co-chairs the Public Pension Oversight Board.
(c)2017 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)