A year of reckoning
Sexual misconduct claims taking toll in state legislatures
Dozens of state lawmakers across the country have been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct since the start of 2017, particularly since the #MeToo movement gained momentum last fall. Here’s a look at those who have resigned, been expelled, faced other repercussions or had accusations made public about them since the start of 2017:
Resigned or removed from office
1. Alaska: Rep. Dean Westlake, D, submitted resignation letter Dec. 15 after being accused by several women of inappropriate behavior.
2. Arizona: Rep. Don Shooter, R, expelled from office Feb. 1 by an overwhelming House vote after an investigation substantiated a lengthy pattern of sexual harassment toward women, including a fellow lawmaker.
3. California: Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D, resigned effective Jan. 1 after a lobbyist said he pushed her into a bathroom during a Las Vegas social event and engaged in lewd behavior in front of her.
4. California: Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D, resigned in November after allegations that he had kissed or groped multiple women without their consent.
5. California: Sen. Tony Mendoza, D, resigned Feb. 22 after an investigation found he likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship with another lawmaker.
6. Colorado: Rep. Steve Lebsock, D, expelled from office March 2 by an overwhelming House vote after an independent investigator determined there were credible claims he had harassed five women, including a fellow lawmaker. Elected as a Democrat, Lebsock changed his party affiliation to Republican on the day he was expelled.
7. Florida: Sen. Jack Latvala, R, resigned effective Jan. 5 following allegations of sexual misconduct raised by multiple women.
8. Florida: Sen. Jeff Clemens, D, resigned in Oct. 27 shortly after a news report that he had extramarital affair with a lobbyist. The House speaker had said that because a lobbyist is dependent on legislators, “the facts here raise a very real question of sexual harassment.”
9. Hawaii: Rep. Joseph Souki, D, agreed March 21 to resign by the end of the month as part of a State Ethics Commission settlement of allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women by subjecting them to unwanted kissing, touching and sexual language. The settlement also calls for him to pay $5,000 to the state, make a public apology and not seek office for two years.
10. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R, resigned March 12 after a website published video of the married lawmaker kissing a lobbyist at a bar. Though the Senate’s ethics code doesn’t explicitly prohibit lawmaker-lobbyist relationships, it says senators should strive to avoid “the appearance of unethical” conduct, and some have raised questions about whether their relationship affected legislation.
11. Minnesota: Sen. Dan Schoen, D, resigned effective Dec. 15 following several allegations from women.
12. Minnesota: Rep. Tony Cornish, R, resigned effective Nov. 30 following several allegations, including from a lobbyist who said he repeatedly propositioned her for sex.
13. Mississippi: Rep. John Moore, R, resigned in December after multiple women made complaints against him; the House speaker’s office said he had been facing an investigation led by an outside lawyer.
14. Nevada: Sen. Mark Manendo, D, resigned in July after a law firm concluded that he violated the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy and behaved inappropriately toward female staffers and lobbyists.
15 Ohio: Sen. Clifford Hite, R, resigned Oct. 16 after being accused of sexually harassing a female state employee.
16. Ohio: Rep. Wes Goodman, R, resigned Nov. 15 after the married lawmaker acknowledged having a sexual encounter in his office with another man; the House speaker said Goodman had engaged in “inappropriate behavior related to his state office.”
17. Oklahoma: Rep. Dan Kirby, R, resigned in February 2017 after two former assistants alleged he sexually harassed them, including one with whom he had reached a confidential wrongful-termination settlement that included a $44,500 payment from House funds.
18. Oklahoma: Sen. Ralph Shortey, R, resigned in March 2017 and later pleaded guilty to a federal charge of child sex trafficking after being accused of hiring a 17-year-old boy for sex.
19. Oklahoma: Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R, resigned in September after being charged with sexual battery for allegedly groping an Uber driver who picked him up from a restaurant in the capital city.
20. Oregon: Sen. Jeff Kruse, R, resigned effective March 15 after an investigation determined he had harassed women in the Capitol with prolonged hugging, groping and other unwelcome physical contact.
21. Rhode Island: Sen. Nicholas Kettle, R, resigned Feb. 22 after Senate leaders introduced a resolution to expel him after he was charged the previous week with extorting a male page for sex on two occasions in 2011 and with video voyeurism that involved trading nude photos of his exgirlfriend and a New Hampshire woman without their consent
22. South Dakota: Rep. Mathew Wollmann, R, resigned in January 2017 after admitting to sexual contact with two interns, which a legislative panel said was a violation of rules.
23. Tennessee: Rep. Mark Lovell, R, resigned in February 2017 as a House ethics panel concluded that he had violated the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy.
24. Utah: Rep. Jon Stanard, R, resigned Feb. 6, citing “personal and family concerns,” shortly before media reports that Stanard had been reimbursed with taxpayer funds for at least two hotel stays in 2017 during which he allegedly met up with a prostitute
1. Alaska: Sen. David Wilson, R, placed on probation and disciplined in December by Senate leaders after a review found he engaged in retaliation as he defended himself against sexual harassment allegations.
2. California: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D, took a voluntary unpaid leave of absence Feb. 9 after public reports that a sexual misconduct complaint had been filed against her for allegedly groping a former legislative staff member in 2014.
3. California: Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D, formally reprimanded March 8 by the Senate Rules Committee and told not to hug people anymore after an investigation concluded that his frequent embraces made multiple female colleagues uncomfortable.
4. Colorado: Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D, suspended as vice chair of a legislative committee in November 2017 after being accused of groping a political activist during his first campaign for a House seat in 2012. Complaint was dismissed Jan. 4, apparently because the alleged incident took place before he was elected, but Rosenthal was subsequently permanently removed from his committee leadership post
5. Colorado: Sen. Randy Baumgartner, R, stepped down as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 13 and agreed to undergo sensitivity training after media reports alleged that he groped a legislative aide in 2016. A third-party investigator determined the aide’s claims were credible, but an April 2 Senate vote to expel Baumgartner failed. He retained leadership roles on two other committees.
6. Illinois: Sen. Ira Silverstein, D, resigned in November as majority caucus chairman after a victims rights advocate publicly accused him of sending inappropriate messages to her; a legislative inspector general recommended in January that Silverstein receive counseling from the Senate’s ethics officer but said his inappropriate comments did not constitute sexual harassment. Silverstein, a state senator since 1999, lost in the Democratic primary March 20.
7. Kentucky: Sen. Julian Carroll, D, removed in July as the minority whip for Senate Democrats after he was accused of groping a man in 2005.
8. Kentucky: House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R, resigned from his leadership post Jan. 8 after secretly settling a sexual harassment complaint with a female legislative aide and acknowledging he sent inappropriate text messages to her. An ethics complaint against him remains open.
9. Kentucky: Rep. Jim DeCesare, R, removed from a legislative committee chairmanship in November 2017 after signing a secret sexual harassment settlement stemming from a text message sent to a woman. A state ethics commission voted April 3 to dismiss a complaint against him.
10. Kentucky: Rep. Brian Linder, R, removed from a legislative committee chairmanship in November 2017 after signing a secret sexual harassment settlement stemming from a text message sent to a woman. A state ethics commission voted April 3 to dismiss a complaint against him
11. Kentucky: Rep. Michael Meredith, R, removed from a legislative committee chairmanship in November 2017 after signing a secret sexual harassment settlement stemming from a vulgar statement to a woman. A state ethics commission voted April 3 to dismiss a complaint against him.
12. Massachusetts: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D, stepped aside in December 2017 from his leadership position because of an investigation into whether he violated Senate rules in connection with allegations that his husband sexually abused several men, including some who had dealings with the Legislature. Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, was indicted March 29 on sexual assault charges.
13. New Mexico: Sen. Michael Padilla, D, ousted in December as Democratic majority whip by the caucus after decade-old allegations that he had sexually harassed women in a prior job. Padilla also dropped out of the lieutenant governor’s race.
14. New York: Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, R, formally sanctioned in November by a legislative ethics panel after allegations that he asked a female legislative staffer for nude photos and leaked her name when she filed a harassment complaint.
15. Oklahoma: Rep. Will Fourkiller, D, advised in February 2017 to get sensitivity training and blocked from interacting with the Legislature’s page program for a year after being accused of making inappropriate comments to a high school page in 2015.
16. Pennsylvania: Sen. Daylin Leach, D, announced in December that he will “step back” from his campaign for a congressional seat after allegations that he behaved inappropriately toward female employees and campaign aides. Also facing a call from Gov. Tom Wolf to resign.
17. Pennsylvania: Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R, had a three-year protective order issued against him by a judge on March 15, requiring him to stay away from state Rep. Tarah Toohill after she accused Miccarelli of being physically abusive during a relationship that ended in 2012 and physically intimidating to her at the Capitol this year. A prosecutor confirmed on March 2 that Miccarelli is under investigation for allegations that he sexually assaulted one woman in 2014 and threatened to kill another woman in 2012
18. Washington: Rep. Matt Manweller, R, resigned as assistant floor leader and was removed as ranking member of a House committee in December. Manweller also was placed on paid leave from his job as a political science professor at Central Washington University and barred from contacting past and present students while the university investigates allegations of sexual harassment against him.
19. Washington: Rep. David Sawyer, D, restricted from working with his staff in February pending a review of allegations related to personal boundary issues; media reported that eight women have accused Sawyer of inappropriate behavior toward them both before and after he first was elected as a lawmaker in 2012
20. Wisconsin: Rep. Josh Zepnick, D, removed from legislative committees in December after being accused of kissing two women against their will at political events several years ago.
Also of note
1. California: Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D, included in sexual misconduct complaint records released Feb. 2 for participating in an inappropriate discussion about anal sex. She was notified of the complaint in February 2017.
2. California: Assemblyman Travis Allen, R, included in sexual misconduct complaint records released Feb. 2 for being accused of inappropriately touching a female staff member in early 2013.
3. Colorado: Sen. Jack Tate, R, determined by an independent investigator to have likely made inappropriate comments and flirtatiously touched an intern in 2017 as alleged in a complaint. But Senate President Kevin Grantham closed the investigation March 29 after determining the alleged actions didn’t reach the level of sexual misconduct.
4. Colorado: Sen. Larry Crowder, R, accused by state Rep. Susan Lontine of pinching her buttocks in 2015 and making an inappropriate sexual comment to her in August 2017. Lontine went public with her allegations on Feb. 8, 2018, while noting that she had filed a confidential complaint against Crowder in November 2017.
5. Georgia: Sen. David Shafer, R,accused by a lobbyist in a sexual harassment complaint filed in March of retaliating against and harassing her after helping her get a bill passed in 2011.
6. Idaho: Rep. James Holtzclaw, R, accused in a complaint of making inappropriate comments to at least two people during the 2017 session.
7. Kentucky: Rep. Dan Johnson, R, killed himself in December, just days after being publicly accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 2013.
8. Kentucky: Rep. Jim Stewart, R, accused in a
memo publicized in March 2018 of having a formal complaint filed against him in 2015 for allegedly making “unwanted verbal advances” on a female courier in the Capitol
9. Missouri: Rep. Joshua Peters, D, warned in February 2017 that any further complaints of inappropriate language or behavior would be dealt with more severely as the House Ethics Committee dismissed a sexual harassment complaint brought against him by state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal.
10. New York: Sen. Jeff Klein, D, accused in January of sexual harassment in 2015 for allegedly forcibly kissing a former Independent Democratic Conference staff member who has asked for an investigation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
11. North Carolina: Rep. Duane Hall, D, faced calls to resign in February from Gov. Roy Cooper and other top Democrats following a media report in which people
alleged Hall used sexual innuendo and made unwanted sexual advances.
12. Ohio: Rep. Rick Perales, R, acknowledged in March that he engaged in “flirtatious and inappropriate texting” with constituent Jocelyn Smith in 2015 but denied accusations that he forcibly kissed and choked her. Smith is running against Perales in the May 8 Republican primary. The House speaker is investigating her claims.
13. Ohio: Rep. Bill Seitz, R, compelled by the House speaker to issue a personal and public apology for reportedly making offensive remarks. Those included jokes he told about other recent sexual misconduct scandals during a Jan. 23 going-away party for a House staff member.
14. Ohio: Sen. Matt Huffman, R, issued a public apology for reportedly making offensive remarks, including a suggestive reference to female genitalia, during a Jan. 23 going-away party for a House staff member.
15. Ohio: Rep. Michael Henne, R, mentioned in House documents about harassment allegations released in November
2017 as having been required to undergo sensitivity training and temporarily losing a committee vice chairmanship in 2015 after a female state employee complained he had made inappropriate comments to a group.
16. Pennsylvania: Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D, faced calls by Gov. Tom Wolf to resign after reports in December that House Democrats authorized paying about $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim from a legislative assistant against Caltagirone in 2015.
17. Tennessee: Rep. David Byrd, R, accused by three women in a media report March 27 of sexual misconduct as their high school basketball coach several decades ago. Instead of heeding calls to resign from House and Senate leaders, Byrd is running for re-election.