Sexual harassment settlement paid by campaign donors, House GOP communications director says in lawsuit

12/04/2017 11:36 AM

A sexual harassment settlement between former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and three members of the House Republican caucus may have been paid for by high profile campaign donors, according to a lawsuit filed Monday morning by the House Republican communication director.

House Republican Communication Director Daisy Olivo alleges that she was unfairly punished for helping bring to light sexual harassment allegations from a former female colleague who took part in a “sexual relationship” with former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown.

The filing, which represents one side of a case, brings to light new allegations into the relationship between Hoover and the now former Republican House staffer.

Olivo alleges in the filing that the staffer and Hoover, did have a physical and sexual relationship with the staffer for several years — contrary to what Hoover said when he resigned as House Speaker on Nov. 5.

During the press conference in November, Hoover said that relationship between he and the accuser never went beyond consensual and inappropriate messages.

“At no time did I engage in unwelcome or unwanted conduct of any kind, and at no time were there ever any sexual relations of any kind,” Hoover said, adding that he has been forgiven by God, his wife and his daughters.

The lawsuit says both Olivo and the former female House staffer who settled her sexual harassment claims with Hoover and the three other GOP representatives, were targeted for harassment by Hoover’s chief of staff, Ginger Wills; As well as other members of the Republican legislature.

In February, 2017, Wills called Olivo and another communications staffer into a meeting and explicitly asked if Hoover and Hoover’s accuser were engaged in a sexual relationship. The Policy Director of the Speaker’s Office, was also present in this meeting and discussion, according to the filing. During this February, 2017, meeting, Wills stated to Olivo and the other staffer that Wills believed the female staffer “was the aggressor in the relationship and had forced the Speaker into a “submissive” relationship, which was damaging Rep. Hoover’s ability to do his job and, therefore, COS Wills intended to “create a path to terminate [the staffer].”

The court filing says that Olivo objected to the recommended course of action to build a case to fire the staffer, based upon the “consensual nature of the inappropriate sexual relationship between Rep. Hoover and [the staffer.]”

The former staffer took four-months away from the Legislative Research Commission for military leave, at which point the staffer informs she cannot return to work, because “she now views it as an environment of sexual harassment created by Speaker Hoover.”

“On September 5, 2017, Plaintiff confronts Speaker Hoover in a 90-minute conversation about the inappropriate relationship with Jane Doe, as well as the hostile work environment being created by COS Wills towards Jane Doe, and the overall toxic environment under Speaker Hoover’s and COS Wills’ leadership.”

A short time after the conversation Olivo is informed by the staffer that there has been “a secret settlement to avoid media scrutiny, and that it was paid off the public record with private funds pooled from prominent campaign donors.”

Olivo is seeking a jury trial for compensatory and punitive damages; For her reasonable attorney fees and costs; and for any and all other relief to which the she may appear entitled.

Download the full filing here: Olivo v. LRC-Whistleblower Complaint (12-04-17).pdf

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