State Senate candidate and legislator on investigative panel said she was 'shocked' by allegations

09/19/2013 05:15 PM

State Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, is vying for a state Senate seat come 2014, but she said politics will be put aside as she and four other lawmakers work on a special panel set on cleaning up the House in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

The panel decided Tuesday to move forward with its investigation even after the accused former legislator, Democrat John Arnold, resigned from the General Assembly on“Friday”: . Initially House Democrats handled the reports of improper touching by Arnold in house and sent the allegations to the Legislative Research Commission who are also investigating the claims of two female House leadership staffers.

“I don’t really think anyone had expected this or knew exactly what to do,” Adams said. “I think that everybody is in general agreement that now that this has been brought to light that a response is appropriate. And I think were trying to figure out what the response needs to be.”

At most, the panel could censure Arnold or fine him. But she said she’d like to see the investigation broaden its scope to make policy recommendations, including barring of sexual relationships between lawmakers and staffers.

“It’s a public workplace, but it’s still a workplace none the less,” Adams said (4:11). “If companies in the private sector impose personnel policies upon their employees and on their executive staff, I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be appropriate for a government to have those same set of standards.”

The five-member panel ended up choosing Democratic Rep. Jeffrey Donohue of Louisville as chairman of the committee. Democrats hold the majority of the group three to two.

“I, for one, really believed that (Rep.) Robert Benvenuti was the correct chairman just because of his background as an Inspector General and in investigations,” Adams said (2:50). “I do see the Democrats point in wanting to have one of their own since they are the majority in the House and having a majority (member) be in that leadership position.”

Adams described her reaction to sexual harassment allegations against Arnold as one of shock and surprise. She, along with most of her House counterparts, sat in stunned silence as Democrat Rep. Tom Riner also of Louisville spoke about the incidents on the House floor on Aug. 21.

Adams, meanwhile, is looking to fill the spot of vacating state Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, in the upper chamber in the next election cycle. And she explained why she wants to make the move.

“The opportunity to represent even more people and meet more people and talk to people in the hopes they have great ideas to move the state forward is very energizing to me,” Adams said (7:28). “The second thing is I have filed bills that don’t ever seem to get a public forum and I think that these are important issues too and just because I’m a member of the minority party doesn’t that my constituents ideas are any less legitimate.”


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