Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sexual Harassment Cover-up in Kentucky Legislature

Sexual harassment of staff by Kentucky state legislators is a long-standing tradition.

Once every two years (annually only since 2000), state reps and state senators escaped their small conservative towns for the opportunity to act up in Frankfort, outside the view of their families, friends and neighbors.

Mostly they confined themselves to the ladies and gentlemen whose favors were discreetly for sale, or the ladies and gentlemen whose favors were even more discreetly offered gratis.

But there have always been some legislators who could not distinguish between those who welcomed their advances and those who didn't.

And to the surprise of certain legislative leaders, the victims of those advances are finally fighting back.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein called for an investigation Thursday of House Speaker Greg Stumbo and other Democratic House leaders regarding the job transfer of a legislative staffer who complained of sexual harassment by state Rep. Will Coursey.

Stein, of Lexington, said an investigation is needed to help restore the public's trust in a state legislature rocked by the harassment accusations of four female staffers against two male lawmakers.

"These are serious charges being leveled, and an investigation is needed," said Stein, a former member of the House.

Stein said the investigation probably would have to be conducted by a special prosecutor. She said a special five-member committee that Stumbo created last month to investigate sexual harassment complaints by three women against former state Democratic Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis would not be the proper authority.

Stumbo did not immediately respond to Stein's comments.

He also has not said whether he will expand the work of the committee he appointed to investigate complaints against Arnold, who denied the charges and recently resigned from the legislature.
Coursey, D-Symsonia, has been accused of inappropriate behavior toward legislative interns. He has strongly denied the allegations.
 LRC staff have dined out for decades on stories of legislators drunken, stoned and erection-addled antics. New female staffers were warned to stay away from certain members and their, um, members. But until this year, no one was willing to make public accusations and demand public consequences.

And you can be sure that four staffers and two legislators is just the tip of the iceberg.

No comments: