Politics

Gov. Matt Bevin is calling for the immediate resignation of all elected officials and staff who have been involved in settling or hiding sexual harassment allegations.

The announcement came in a quickly-organized news conference Saturday afternoon amid allegations that House Speaker Jeff Hoover and several Republican leaders in the chamber had secretly settled sexual harassment claims.

Bevin called for the immediate resignation of  “every individual who has settled a sexual harassment case” and state employees “party to trying to hide this type of behavior.”

“For the sake of themselves, for the sake of their families, for the sake of Kentucky they should resign,” Bevin said.

“For every elected official in Kentucky, you either publicly condemn or you publicly condone this type of behavior. Period”

Shortly before Bevin’s press conference, members of House leadership besides Hoover announced they were launching an investigation into the allegations.

“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,” House leaders said in a statement

”We are not going to operate on rumor and innuendo; we are going to make decisions based on facts.”

Rep. Brian Linder, a Republican from Dry Ridge, Rep. Michael Meredith, a Republican from Oakland and Rep. Jim DeCesare, a Republican from Bowling Green, have also been accused of sexual harassment, according to a report from the Herald-Leader.

Hoover released a statement Saturday evening saying his side of the story hasn’t been heard and accusing the governor of trying to silence him.

“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 the statement.

“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.”

Hoover said Bevin “seeks to be judge, jury, and executioner without hearing the evidence. “

“One must wonder why he is so motivated to attack us unless his goal is to remove a voice that dares on occasion to disagree with him as I have done when he has made unnecessary statements attacking our teachers, state workers and retirees who are simply looking for better solutions to very serious problems facing our state,” Hoover said.

Hoover also said he has “no plans to resign” and that he supports the investigation announced by other members of House leadership.

This post has been updated.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.