After nearly four months of meetings and without interviewing a single witness or examining any evidence, the special House committee tasked with investigating claims of sexual harassment against a former state lawmaker voted Thursday afternoon to end its operations.
This summer, female staffers with the Legislative Research Commission say former Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, sexually harassed and assaulted them.
Democratic committee chair Jeff Donohue of Louisville made the motion to disband the panel. He cited an opinion drafted by legal counsel that said lawmakers could not discipline Arnold because he resigned in September.
“Despite the committee’s lack of jurisdiction and as a member of the House of Representatives, I’d like to work with my colleagues to develop stronger policies and laws to prevent sexual harassment. And that is what I plan to do. And I thank you all for your time today.”
Donohue says he doesn't know how much the committee has cost taxpayers.
The Legislative Ethics Commission has postponed a hearing that had been set for Thursday in the case of a former lawmaker accused of sexually harassing Capitol staffers.
Former state representative John Arnold of Sturgis has been rescheduled to appear before the ethics panel on Feb. 25.
Commission Chairman George Troutman said in a written order last week that the delay will allow time for Arnold to undergo a neurological exam that could help determine whether he's competent to participate in his defense and whether he's competent to testify.
Arnold resigned from the Legislature in September after the sexual harassment allegations were made public. Legislative staffers Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper say Arnold had touched them inappropriately and made vulgar comments. A third woman also has filed a complaint.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo doesn't think this week's Republican victory in a special election is a sign of waning Democratic power in the chamber.
Republican Suzanne Miles bested Democratic challenger Kim Humphrey by about a hundred votes in a special election to fill a vacancy in West Kentucky’s 7th District.
Miles’ victory erodes Democrats’ majority in the House down to 54 seats against the Republicans’ 46. And Stumbo says he doesn’t think any House Democrats will change parties to curry favor with a potential GOP majority.
“We might have a Republican or two that flips, but I don’t think you’re gonna see any Democrats that do it … And we congratulate Ms. Miles and look forward to serving with her. It’s [sic] a close race, hundred votes or so … and I expect that, I expect that, I don’t think there’ll be any changes either way.”
The seventh district seat opened up after Democratic Rep. John Arnold resigned during a growing sexual harassment scandal. Arnold won re-election in 2012 by just five votes.
However, following a speech last Friday in Detroit, the freshman Senator said his wife, Kelly, is opposed to him running for president. Paul said his thoughts about being in the spotlight shift from week to week, adding “Sometimes you have a good week. The next week they pound you to death. You know, the haters and the hacks go after you.”
Paul recently faced criticism for using material in some of his speeches and newspaper editorials that were lifted—without attribution—from other sources. Paul said much of the negative attention was coming from, what he called, “haters”.