FBI Confirms Inquiry Into Sexual Harassment At Kentucky Statehouse

Nov 6, 2017

Credit Thinkstock

The FBI has confirmed it is looking into sexual harassment in the Kentucky state legislature. The news comes a day after House Speaker Jeff Hoover admitted to exchanging inappropriate text messages with a female staffer and resigned from his leadership position.

Three Republican lawmakers have been implicated in the scandal and removed from their committee chairmanships.

David Habich, a spokesman for the FBI office in Louisville confirmed the agency is reviewing the allegations.

“The FBI received information regarding sexual harassment and retaliation claims made by employees working in the state capitol,” Habich said in an email.

“We are reviewing that information and the allegations surrounding it to determine whether or not there is a violation of federal law.”

The Herald-Leader reported over the weekend that Hoover’s communications director Daisy Olivo had been contacted by the FBI about alleged sexual harassment and retaliation in the speaker’s office.

According to the story, Olivo said she had been shut out of her normal work duties after reporting a “toxic” workplace culture and the emotional duress of a co-worker.

Rep. Wesley Morgan, a Republican from Richmond, said on Saturday that he reported the sexual harassment scandal to the FBI.

“They have all conspired to cover it up and keep it secret. And it is just not the way we conduct business in Kentucky,” Morgan said at the time.

The Courier-Journal first reported that Hoover secretly settled a sexual harassment complaint with a female subordinate. The story said that Hoover exchanged sexually charged text messages and requested pictures from the woman in 2016, when he was still the minority leader in the House.

On Sunday, Hoover admitted to exchanging “inappropriate text messages,” but said that he and other lawmakers accused in the complaint had not committed sexual harassment.

According to the Herald-Leader, the three other implicated lawmakers are Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge, Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland and Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green.

Gov. Matt Bevin has called for all lawmakers and staff accused in the scandal to resign from their positions.

Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, a Republican from Prospect, has assumed the speakership in the wake of Hoover’s resignation.

Remaining House GOP leaders say they will hire a law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations.