State lawmakers accused of harassment are running for office
Author: Associated Press - July 18, 2018 - Updated: July 18, 2018
Dozens of state lawmakers nationwide have been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct since the beginning of 2017. Here are those running for re-election or another office since the allegations surfaced:
— 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. Shooter is running for a state Senate seat in the Aug. 28 primary.
— Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R, required to participate in sensitivity training and additional sexual harassment training after an investigation concluded June 20, 2018, that he “frequently engaged in sexual ‘locker room talk.'” The investigation found a separate sexual misconduct claim was unsubstantiated. Mathis was sued in April by a former staffer alleging wrongful firing after complaining about sexual misconduct, discrimination and misuse of state resources. Another former staffer sued in May alleging various forms of harassment. He filed for re-election and was one of two candidates to advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
— 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 working for another lawmaker through a fellowship program. He filed to run in both a special election for his seat and for the full term. He lost both bids in the June 5 primary.
— Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D, removed from all legislative committees May 18 and required to attend sensitivity and sexual harassment policy training after outside investigators determined she used vulgar language in violation of the chamber’s sexual harassment policy. Investigators initially cleared Garcia of a groping allegation involving a former legislative staffer, but legislative leaders reopened the investigation after Garcia’s accuser appealed the decision. Garcia filed to run for re-election and was one of two candidates to advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
— 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. He filed to run for re-election and was one of two candidates to advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
— 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. She was the lone Democrat to run for her seat and automatically advanced to the Nov. 6 general election.
— 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. He lost a bid for governor in the June 5 primary.
— 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. He faced two Democratic challengers and failed to garner enough support at district assemblies to qualify for the primary ballot.
— Sen. David Shafer, R, cleared of sexual harassment allegations April 13 by the Senate Ethics Committee, which cited a review by an independent attorney concluding that allegations of sexual harassment brought by a lobbyist were more likely fabricated than true. He was one of two candidates to advance in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor. A runoff will be held July 24.
— Rep. James Holtzclaw, R, accused in a complaint of making inappropriate comments to at least two people during the 2017 session. He was the lone candidate to file for his seat and will be unopposed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
— Rep. Lou Lang, D, resigned as deputy House minority leader May 31, less than an hour after a medical marijuana activist accused him of sexual harassment and verbal abuse during interactions over the past four years related to legislation. The allegations were made after the March 20 primary. He was the lone candidate to file for his seat and will be unopposed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
— 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. He lost his bid for re-election in the March 20 primary.
— 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. Agreed on April 10 to a $1,000 fine and a public reprimand to settle a Legislative Ethics Commission investigation into the matter. He was the lone candidate to file for his seat and will be unopposed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
— 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. He won the Republican primary and advanced to the Nov. 6 ballot.
— 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. He won the Republican primary and advanced to the Nov. 6 ballot.
— Rep. Rod Hamilton, R, apologized April 26 for what he said was a well-intentioned effort to comfort a woman while denying allegations of sexual misconduct made by the woman, who says he touched her without consent. He was the lone Republican to run for his seat and will advance to the Nov. 6 election.
— Rep. Carl Trujillo, D, referred to a panel of lawmakers and an outside counsel for investigation on May 8, 2018, after a former lobbyist filed a complaint alleging Trujillo propositioned and inappropriately touched her as they worked on legislation in 2013 and 2014. He lost his bid for re-election in the June 5 primary.
— 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. He lost his bid for re-election in the May 8 primary.
— Rep. Rick Perales, R, acknowledged in March 2018 that he engaged in “flirtatious and inappropriate texting” with a constituent but denied accusations that he forcibly kissed and choked her. Perales won the Republican primary and advanced to the Nov. 6 ballot.
— 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. He was the lone Republican to run for his seat and automatically advanced to the Nov. 6 election.
— 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. He won the Democratic primary and advanced to the Nov. 6 election.
— 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. He was the lone Republican to run for his seat and will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 election.
— 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. He was the lone Republican to run for his seat and will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 election.
— Rep. David Sawyer, D, suspended on May 9, 2018, from his position as chairman of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct. House Democratic leaders say the investigator’s initial findings included a “pattern of actions toward House staff that created a hostile work environment.” Sawyer had been restricted from working with his staff in February. 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. He has filed for re-election and faces a challenger in the Aug. 7 primary.
— 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. He has filed for re-election and faces a challenger in the Aug. 14 primary.
Source: Reporting from AP state government reporters throughout the country.