A statehouse staffer says there is a clear “war on women” being waged in the Kentucky legislature after a questionable decision cleared former state Rep. John Arnold of any ethical wrongdoing.
The scandal is also threatening to entangle U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is in a difficult spot due to her connections to state Democrats involved.
As WFPL’s Jonathan Meador reported, the Legislative Ethics Commission was one vote shy of reprimanding Arnold, who resigned last year after allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted three female staffers surfaced.
Yolanda Costner is one of the three women who filed the complaint against Arnold.
She specifically accused the Western Kentucky Democrat of tugging at her panties as she walked up the steps of the Capital Annex building.
In an interview with CN2’s Ryan Alessi, Costner said “clearly there’s a war on women in Frankfort at the Capital.”
Another female staffer, Cassaundra Cooper, claimed Arnold slapped her buttocks while in another lawmaker’s office.
A key talking point for Grimes on the campaign trail has been that Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell (and the GOP at-large) holds antiquated views on women.
Just this week Grimes’ campaign dinged McConnell for supposedly “insulting” Kentucky women in a Senate floor speech during ‘Equal Pay Day.’ On the campaign stump, Grimes reminds voters she is the only female constitutional officer in the state and that if elected she’d be the first female U.S. senator in the Kentucky’s history.
On other occasions, Grimes’ team has pounced on Republicans whom have called her an “empty dress” or referred to her as “Obama girl.” But Grimes has said very little about the Arnold case or the women involved since WFPL first broke the story last fall even as her political connections to the case become more apparent.
The deciding vote against punishing Arnold was cast by Marion County lawyer Elmer George, who was appointed by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo—a key Grimes supporter himself—this January.
George took umbrage with suggestions that his vote was politically-motived but he is a hefty Democratic donor.
He gave the maximum $2,000 contribution limit under Kentucky law to Grimes’ secretary of state bid in 2011. Federal campaign finance records also show that George gave the maximum $5,200 to Grimes’ Senate campaign in December 2013.
It was just a few months ago when Republicans criticized Grimes for taking a $250 campaign gift from Arnold just a month after he resigned.
Reporters have attempted to ask Grimes about the latest development in the Arnold scandal, but the likely Democratic nominee exited the event without taking any questions.
Grimes’s spokeswoman, Charly Norton, said the candidate had to “get home,” which is less than a mile from where the dinner was held. The candidate, who added a line about freedom of the press to her standard stump speech Tuesday night, refused to acknowledge reporters who walked out of the hotel with her.
The Grimes campaign has yet to respond to our request for comment.