Stumbo files petition to allow House determine whether to censure or expel Rep. John Arnold

08/29/2013 02:22 PM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed a petition Thursday to lay the groundwork for the House to investigate the conduct of Rep. John Arnold and potentially recommend expelling him when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Calling the sexual harassment allegations against Arnold “a distraction,” Stumbo announced the move in letters to the 100 House members and in a statement to the media:

“I have decided to take this action so that the full House will have the opportunity to review the evidence and the recommendation of the eight-member investigative committee I shall appoint tomorrow, after speaking with candidates from both the majority and minority caucuses. The Constitution gives each chamber of the General Assembly authority to determine its rule of proceedings and to punish a member for disorderly behavior and, with a two-thirds vote, to expel him or her. As I said last week during the special session, I believe strongly that due process is crucial in legal matters, but we need to be ready if the findings show that these acts did indeed take place. This is not a decision I take lightly, and it needs to be resolved quickly.”

Stumbo filed the petition with the House Clerk.

Three legislative staffers have accused Arnold of inappropriate comments and touching. Arnold has remained publicly silent, but Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, told Pure Politics that Arnold hasn’t denied the allegations to LRC investigators.

Stumbo also issued a letter to Senate President Robert Stivers saying that House Republican and Democrats want the actions of LRC Director Bobby Sherman “to be thoroughly reviewed by an independent source to ensure that our employees are protected and provided a safe working environment.”

“I believe we all agreed that a final report from the Director should be made before such an investigation,” Stumbo wrote.

Stumbo and Stivers went back and forth Wednesday over a Sept. 4 LRC meeting. Stivers called for an executive session in which the allegations, legal liability and handling of the matter by the LRC could be discussed. Stumbo initially balked at the suggestion but said Thursday he would be open to the Sept. 4 meeting.

Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson, however, said Stumbo’s actions appear to be aimed at containing the political fallout and controlling the process.

“I would assume Speaker Stumbo would have to have an independent investigation that he was in charge of,” Robertson told Pure Politics. “That’s a very convenient thing to develop.”

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