An employee for statehouse Republicans is alleging she faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on an inappropriate relationship between former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and a subordinate.
In the lawsuit filed today in Franklin Circuit Court, communications director Daisy Olivo claims she suffered workplace retribution and loss of her job duties after expressing concerns to the Legislative Research Commission about Hoover’s relationship and the workplace environment that followed the revelation.
Hoover resigned his position last month, after Courier Journal reported he had sent inappropriate text messages to a female staffer. The lawsuit filed today alleges the relationship went beyond text messages, and Hoover and the subordinate were engaged in a sexual relationship. It says Hoover’s chief of staff, Ginger Wills, wanted to fire the subordinate — a move Olivo disagreed with because the relationship was consensual.
The lawsuit alleges once the female staffer returned to work after a military leave, she complained about a hostile work environment in Hoover’s office. This led to the sexual harassment settlement reported last month.
The settlement was paid for with private funds from “prominent campaign donors,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit is filed against the Legislative Research Commission, and seeks a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees.
Requests to Hoover’s office, Wills, Olivo and Republican House leadership for comment were not immediately returned Monday morning.
In a statement sent through his lawyer Monday afternoon, Hoover denied the allegations.
“I have never engaged in sexual contact of any kind with any staff member during my 21 years in Frankfort. Never,” he wrote. “I will no longer sit back and let untrue, false, defamatory statements be made against me and others, regardless of the position of the person making them. During the course of the recent investigation by the law firm Middleton Reutlinger, 40 people were interviewed. The only staff person who refused to cooperate has now filed suit making untrue, false statements. This no coincidence [sic]. Also, the law firm report issued last week confirmed that no settlement funds came directly or indirectly from political donors or lobbyists.”
Read the lawsuit:
This story has been updated to include Hoover’s response.