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Kentucky House Disbands Committee Investigating Hoover Allegations

Ryland Barton
Kentucky Public Radio

The Kentucky House has voted to do away with a special committee that was investigating allegations that former House Speaker Jeff Hoover sexually harassed a staffer.

The bipartisan committee was created after 8 Republican lawmakers filed a complaint against Hoover under a new disciplinary rule last week.

The House voted 90-0 to abolish that rule on Wednesday.

Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne called the rule a “horrible mistake that should’ve never been done.”

“I won’t apologize for the intent, but clearly it did not have the intended effect that we had hoped that it would,” Osborne told reporters.

Osborne said the rule was created to ensure those accused of wrongdoing by fellow House members received due process, but said it had failed.

“Whether it was poorly written, whether it was poorly messaged, whatever that may be it didn’t serve the purpose that it was hoped to have served,” Osborne said.

Hoover and three other Republican lawmakers settled a confidential sexual harassment complaint filed by a former staffer last fall.

Hoover has admitted to exchanging inappropriate text messages with the woman but denies sexually harassing or having sex with her.

Lawmakers voted last week to create the new rule, which triggers a special investigative committee if two or more lawmakers file a complaint against another.

The day after the rule was passed, lawmakers filed a complaint against Hoover, seeking his expulsion and saying he sexually harassed a staffer and used his office to cover it up.

This week, Hoover officially resigned his position as House speaker. He then proposed a new rule that would have required lawmakers to pay legal fees of those they accuse if the complaint doesn’t result in an expulsion — that proposal failed on a technicality, but divided House Republicans, many of whom still support Hoover.

Democratic Minority Leader Rocky said the lawmakers shouldn’t investigate fellow lawmakers.

“We need an independent body to do that. We need it to be objective and we need — whatever the allegations are — to find the truth,” said Adkins. “We do have that set up through the Legislative Ethics Commission.”

A separate investigation into the Hoover allegations is still being conducted by the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Gov. Matt Bevin has called for all members involved in the scandal to resign.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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