Kentucky governor calls for public officials who settled harassment claims to quit

Gov. Matt Bevin calls allegations "reprehensible," "despicable," "unacceptable."

— -- The governor of Kentucky demanded today that any public official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment suit should "resign immediately."

Gov. Matt Bevin, in a press conference Saturday afternoon in Frankfort, said he wanted resignations from any elected public official or state employee who is "party to trying to hide this type of behavior."

"This involves both elected officials and non-elected government employees," he said. "They know who they are, some have been named."

Without naming any individuals, Bevin characterized the reported allegations as "reprehensible," "despicable" and "unacceptable," and said they "haven't been denied."

"Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately," he said. "The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state."

"You either condone this behavior or you condemn this behavior," he said.

Although Bevin did not name any individual in his call for resignations, Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who is the target of an independent probe launched Saturday by state Republicans to investigate allegations he tried to hide sexual harassment claims against him, responded to the governor, saying he was "disappointed" and that he had no plans to resign.

"I am disappointed that our Governor in his press conference Saturday afternoon would call not only for my resignation but the resignation of other individuals who have no involvement in this matter," Hoover said in a statement released this evening. "The Governor has yet to ask our side of the story, he and I have not spoken since the story broke, and I did not receive a courtesy call from him before his grandstanding today. Instead, he has accepted as fact only, one side of the story."

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported last week that Hoover settled a sexual harassment claim outside of court with one of his staffers.

The Republican leadership of the Kentucky House said in a statement released earlier it "is taking steps to launch an independent investigation so that Members of the House and the general public may know the facts."

"Because the rumors involve the Speaker of the House, other State Representatives, and members of the House staff, the leadership team concluded that we must find the truth immediately to assure the public that the new Republican majority takes this matter seriously," the statement said.

The team did not seek approval from Hoover, but after the decision was made "we have since informed him about what we intend to do," the statement said.

In his statement this evening, Hoover said he supports the request by Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne and the majority leadership to conduct an independent review.