Politics
6:12 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Pressured Over New Sexual Harassment Claims in Kentucky Legislature

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit Creative Commons

Saying Alison Lundergan Grimes needs to prove her commitment to women, the chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky is challenging the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate to join a call to investigate new sexual harassment allegations in the state legislature.

As The Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth reports, Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, is asking for a probe to examine the decision-making by Democratic House leadership.

At issue is House Speaker Greg Stumbo's office ordering the transfer of a female staffer who complained about the behavior of a Democratic lawmaker.

From The C-J:

Legislative Research Commission employee Nicole Cusic said that after she complained to state Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, about his behavior in 2012 — she alleges he tried to date interns and made inappropriate statements about another staff member — LRC officials moved her out of a suite of offices where Coursey worked to a temporary desk.

Coursey has denied the allegations, but Stein told the newspaper there is "a bad smell, a noxious smell" in the House and a need to regain the public's trust.

In response, the state GOP is pressuring Grimes—who has continually criticized Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell's voting record on women's issues—to speak up.

From RPK Chairman Steve Robertson:

"At this time, I believe it is appropriate for Alison Lundergan Grimes to finally prove her commitment to Kentucky women and publicly support Democrat Senator Kathy Stein's call for an investigation of Democrat House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Democrat House leadership. If she does not support Senator Stein's call for an investigation, we can only assume that she either condones the inappropriate behavior and disturbing culture that has been referenced in the wake of recent sexual harassment allegations or is putting her political relationships ahead of Kentucky's women. "

These new allegations against Coursey come just two weeks after three female staffers alleged former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, sexually harassed and assaulted them.

Arnold resigned earlier this month as an investigation into his actions was beginning to take shape, including question if House Democratic leaders handled the situation properly.

The Grimes campaign has not yet responded to our request for comment.

In previous statements, however, Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton told WFPL any harassment of women in the workplace should not be tolerated.

UPDATE:

In a blistering rebuke, Stein sent WFPL a statement saying state Republicans are trying to unfairly smear Grimes for a state controversy the secretary of state has nothing to do with.

From Stein:

"I am astounded that Steve Robertson and the Kentucky GOP would stoop to such a low level in attempting to tie Alison's campaign to an answer I made when a reporter asked me if an investigation of the LRC matter was warranted.  Robertson's statement is a petty attempt to use the troubling and serious allegations of mismanagement by the LRC, which is lead by an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, as a political tool.   They want to smear the reputation of a public servant who has continually worked for the betterment of women in Kentucky.  But that is what can be expected from the McConnell camp.  This is exactly the kind of political ugliness that makes our citizens disgusted with Mitch McConnell who has made a name for himself amongst those who have declared a war on women.  The women of Kentucky will not be fooled by their smoke and mirrors."

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