Democratic lawmaker calls for broadening investigations to fix inappropriate 'culture' in legislature

09/23/2013 12:01 AM

More legislative staff members have expressed concern about inappropriate behavior by lawmakers, which should be cause to expand the scope of investigations into the conduct of a recently resigned legislator, said Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville.

Meeks declined to name any other lawmakers or outline specific allegations.

“There is a culture that needs to be addressed in Frankfort. It doesn’t have a ‘D’ behind it. It doesn’t have an ‘R’ or an ‘I’ behind it,” Meeks said. (1:00)

“I’m aware of staff members who have come to me to say they’ve had issues, and I would hope that rather than limiting this investigation of LRC to these two or three cases, that we open the door and let our staff members come forward,” he added (2:30).

Meeks witnessed one of the incidents involving former Rep. John Arnold of Union County and a legislative staff member. Meeks, in his interview with Pure Politics on Thursday, recounted how Arnold grabbed the underwear of a legislative staffer as they were walking on the steps. Arnold resigned on Sept. 13 in light of complaints from three staff members that have sparked concurent investigations by the Legislative Ethics Commission, the Legislative Research Commission and a special House panel.

Meeks said he doesn’t sense that current House Democratic leaders are trying to cover anything up. But he said he was “really surprised and disappointed” to learn in the formal complaint by the staffers that Rep. John Will Stacy brushed off concerns one of them raised about Arnold’s behavior in 2010. Stacy, at the time, was House Democratic whip.

One of the current House Democratic leaders, Rep. Tommy Thompson of Philpot, told Pure Politics on Saturday that House leaders are making every effort to root out problems and that he wasn’t aware of any other situations beyond the ones involving Arnold.

He said he took issue with descriptions that there is a “culture” of inappropriate behavior in the General Assembly. (For more on this, watch Pure Politics on Monday at 7 p.m. EST on Time Warner’s cn|2 network).

Meeks also weighed in on current debates going on in Washington, including the effect of the House’s most recent version of a food stamps bill. The measure, which passed the Republican-controlled House last week, would cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


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