Uncooperative House GOP staffers delaying preliminary investigatory report, now due by Dec. 1

11/22/2017 05:15 PM

Middleton Reutlinger, the law firm hired by House Republicans to investigate the circumstances of a sexual harassment settlement reached between some lawmakers and a staffer, said in a memo to GOP leaders in the lower chamber Wednesday that their preliminary inquiry has been delayed because some current and former staffers have refused to cooperate.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, who is handling operation duties of the speaker’s office after former House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigned after reports of the confidential settlement surfaced, released the memo in a news release.

Middleton Reutlinger said that it expected to have the preliminary inquiry finished by Dec. 1 once lawmakers named in the settlement are interviewed and the firm reviews all available documentation. Osborne, R-Prospect, said in a statement that he will grant the requested extension.

Hoover, R-Jamestown, stepped down from his leadership role Nov. 5, acknowledging inappropriate but consensual communications with the employee. Others who reportedly signed the agreement include GOP Reps. Jim DeCesare, Brian Linder and Michael Meredith, although only Linder has confirmed his involvement in the settlement.

“Most members of your staff and caucus have been extremely cooperative and helpful. There are, however, current and former staff members refusing to cooperate,” Middleton Reutlinger wrote in the memo. “This lack of cooperation has delayed our report and would jeopardize its thoroughness; we hope they will reconsider in the days ahead.”

“We have also reached out to all of the reported parties to the purported Settlement Agreement as well as other third parties to interview them and obtain additional information,” the firm added. “We anticipate several of those individuals cooperating with our investigation within the next week, and their cooperation will greatly enhance the thoroughness of the report.”

Osborne said that he was “very disappointed” that at least two individuals have refused to cooperate with the inquiry to his knowledge and that he would “be addressing these issues in the days ahead.”

“Based on information received to date, we are still considering turning this matter over to another investigatory agency with the power to compel information from key people and witnesses,” Osborne said in a statement. “But we will withhold final judgment pending the report and recommendations from Middleton Reutlinger. We want to thank the members of our staff and caucus who have cooperated with the investigation. Most everyone contacted has been cooperative; it is unfortunate that some people have, so far, chosen not to cooperate.

“I remain hopeful everyone contacted will participate in the preliminary phase of this investigation. New information comes forth with each interview, and it is vital the public ultimately have a full accounting of what occurred.”

Osborne added that House Republican leaders have reached out to lawmakers from both parties in the General Assembly on reforming current processes and procedures related to workplace matters in the legislature.

“We are committed to ensuring the best possible environment for all public servants,” he said.


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