Calling it a “cover up,” Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky contrasted how he handled a sexual harassment scandal differently than likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes has in recent months.
As WFPL’s Jonathan Meador reported Friday, two of the three women who made formal complaints against former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold filed a motion asking an ethics panel to reconsider their ruling that cleared Arnold of any charges.
But McConnell says state House Democrats need to re-open a full investigation into Arnold, who is accused of sexually harassing at least three staffers in the state capitol.
“I want to express my outrage at the cover-up going on over in the state House of Representatives with regard to this serious sexual harassment case,” McConnell told reporters Saturday afternoon. “They need to reopen this case, they need to handle it fairly and make sure that justice is administered.”
The GOP leader made the comments during a campaign stop in Louisville this weekend, where he received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
McConnell withheld answering any questions about gun rights and instead used the presser to contrast how Grimes has reacted to the Arnold scandal to how he handled a similar case two decades ago.
In 1994, McConnell was head of the Senate Ethics Committee when Republican Bob Packwood of Oregon was accused of sexual misconduct involving Senate staffers.
Despite believing that the seat would fall to a Democrat, McConnell’s committee voted unanimously to expel Packwood from office. During the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in 1999, McConnell said the GOP chose honor over politics during that ordeal.
From The Washington Post:
“We Republicans were aware during the Packwood debate that we would likely lose that Senate seat if Senator Packwood was removed from office,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “So, we had a choice: retain the Senate seat or retain our honor. We chose honor, and never looked back.”
Grimes spoke with the two Kentucky staffers, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, after saying she was “disappointed” in the verdict against Arnold.
But Grimes has been slow to respond to the scandal in her own political backyard.
Last year, Grimes declined to say whether Arnold should resign from office. But she did accept a $250 contribution from Arnold once he left office.
Republicans also point out other ties Grimes has to the Arnold case.
The lone vote against punishing Arnold was cast by Marion County lawyer Elmer George, who gave the maximum contribution to Grimes’ Senate campaign. Other documents show George’s son is on the Grimes campaign payroll as well.
Both Cooper and Costner have the ethics trial outcome was politically motivated and that it represents a “war on women” in the state legislature.