House Speaker Jeff Hoover has "full support" of caucus amid report of sexual harassment settlement, House GOP leader says

11/03/2017 06:37 PM

FRANKFORT — House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who reportedly reached a settlement with a legislative staffer who accused him of sexual harassment, has the “full support” and “confidence” of his Republican colleagues in the state’s House of Representatives, House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell told reporters Friday after a nearly three-hour caucus meeting.

The Courier Journal reported Wednesday that Hoover settled with the woman after she raised the allegations.

Shell, R-Lancaster, said House Republicans did not take a vote on whether Hoover should continue as House speaker during Friday’s closed-door caucus meeting.

“We had ample opportunity for members to discuss rumors that were being talked about in the media, but the majority of our meeting today was talking about how to move forward on this pension issue,” Shell said, describing Kentucky’s beleaguered pension systems as “a great crisis for this state for this state.”

“We’re trying to find the right solution moving forward,” he added.

Shell said the caucus discussed the Courier Journal’s report “and the embarassments that it’s caused, but as far as addressing any rumors and allegations we did not.”

Hoover, R-Jamestown, was not made available to reporters assembled outside the House majority caucus room in the Capitol Annex because he was in a meeting, Shell said.

Hoover has declined to comment on the matter, and he told reporters with the Associated Press and Lexington Herald-Leader earlier Friday that he had no plans to resign as speaker.

At least one member of the House Republican caucus is taking steps to distance himself from Hoover. State Rep. Wesley Morgan, a freshman lawmaker from Richmond, said shortly after Friday’s caucus meeting that he was cancelling an invitation for Hoover to appear at an upcoming fundraiser.

“Speaker Hoover was set to be a special guest at my fundraiser on November 30th,” Morgan posted on Twitter. “At this time, I am officially rescinding that invitation.”

With a special session expected to address pension reform later this year, Shell said House Republicans are working to amend the proposal to address concerns raised by various groups, such as requiring employees to pay an addition 3 percent of their salaries for retiree health care.

He says he cannot vote for the bill as it’s written, but he expects the House GOP will have a proposal that can alleviate the caucus’ concerns in time for a special session, which has not yet been called by Gov. Matt Bevin.

“Giving specifics right now’s not going to do anybody any good,” Shell said when asked about specific issues that need to be changed in the proposal. “We’ve got a lot of problems with it that we’re working through.

“What I am proud to say is we’re listening. For all the people out there that’re affected by this that have contacted their representatives, that have contacted me, the people in my district, we’re listening to those concerns, and we’re trying to adjust those.”


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