A former Kentucky legislative staffer alleges House Majority Whip Johnny Bell fired her because she’d filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against another legislator.
Yolanda Costner alleges that Bell was also motivated to fire her because he wanted to hire a woman to whom he’d previously expressed sexual interest. Costner, in documents filed Monday in Franklin Circuit Court, also claimed Bell had purchased Xanax from the staff member, Shannon Ellis, and that he had been seen in the Capitol with marijuana.
Bell, a Glasgow Democrat, became House majority whip this month. He did not respond Monday evening to requests for comment.
Costner is one of three women who’ve filed suit in 2013 against the Legislative Research Commission and state Rep. John Arnold. The women alleged Arnold sexually harassed them in the Statehouse. Arnold denied the claims but resigned in fall 2013 after the allegations were made public. He was later fined by the state legislative ethics commission.
Costner worked for the LRC and was assigned to the office of Bell’s predecessor as majority whip, Owensboro Democrat Tommy Thompson.
In an email dated Dec. 31 and addressed to Louisville Democratic Rep. Tom Riner, Costner alleges that before Bell beat Thompson, he told other legislators “that he intends to ‘clean house,’ including terminating my employment.”
In Monday’s court filing, Costner claims that since her lawsuit against Arnold and the LRC was ongoing, her termination was illegal.