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The 2014 Kentucky General Assembly began Tuesday, but discussion was dominated by fallout from a committee tasked with investigating sexual harassment claims against a former lawmaker.
Members of the panel took turns speaking on the House floor, with Republican members saying that the committee had failed by not fully investigating the claims against former state Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat. The panel disbanded after Arnold resigned.
Rep. Arnold Simpson was a member of that committee and defended the committee’s actions in a floor speech. He argued that the state faces more pressing concerns in the areas of education and addressing poverty.
“So let’s put this report behind us. No one’s proud of the actions taken by [Arnold], but he’s taken a course that, in my thought, was a proper course, and resigned. Thank you,” says Simpson, a Covington Democrat.
Rep. Rita Smart also sat on that committee. She told colleagues that she suffered sexual harassment for many years.
“I’m retired after many years of public work,” Smart says. “I started in 1971. So over the course of 32 years, I worked mainly in the agriculture field. So do I need to say any more to you?”