House minority leader calls for independent harassment investigation; discusses culture in General Assembly

11/08/2017 04:20 PM

UPDATED FRANKFORT — Democrats in the House of Representatives are calling for an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment that led to a settlement with a high profile member of the House of Representatives, and some reports indicate several other GOP House members.

House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and other Democratic leaders say Republicans in the House should not be in charge of hiring lawyers to investigate their caucus regarding allegations which have already forced Rep. Jeff Hoover to resign as House speaker on Sunday.

Adkins told Pure Politics in an interview in his fourth floor Capitol Annex office on Wednesday that there needs to be a truly independent body running the investigation, like the Legislative Research Commission.

Democrats could force a meeting of the Legislative Research Commission to push for a third party to run the investigation. Democrats gave Republicans until 5pm on Wednesday to respond to their request.

Adkins issued a statement before the deadline saying that Democratic leaders had their first discussion with Republican House leadership on Wednesday, and “reiterated that the House Democratic leadership’s priority is to have an investigation that is transparent, thorough and independent.

“We are still in discussions to accomplish this goal.”

This is certainly not the only sexual harassment scandal to rock Frankfort, the last coming in 2013 when then Democratic Rep. John Arnold harassed three female legislative staffers.

Some say there is a culture of harassment in the General Assembly, Adkins said that there is more viability of the issue because of “better laws, better statutes, better avenues for people who have been sexually harassed…”

“Can we do better here? Yes, and we need to,” he said. “If there’s laws that need to be strengthened we need to strengthen them. We need to have a place of work here in the Kentucky General Assembly and all other places, as I said that are workplaces as I said that are free of sexual harassment. Zero tolerance.”

Adkins said those in the legislature need to “earn trust,” as lawmakers are being investigated.

As it stands women only make up 16 percent of the General Assembly, and Adkins said that there needs to be more females in politics, especially in the Kentucky General Assembly.

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