Politics

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover has announced he will not seek reelection next year. Hoover stepped down from his leadership position in early 2018 after revelations that he and three other Republican lawmakers signed a secret agreement with a former staffer settling sexual harassment allegations.

Hoover was the first Republican to preside over the House of Representatives in nearly a century when his party won control of the chamber in 2016.

After the sexual harassment scandal, Hoover stepped down from the speakership but kept his seat representing House District 83. He won reelection to the seat in 2018 after running unopposed.

In a statement provided to WJRS Radio, Hoover said that he wanted to devote more time to his law practice and business interests.

“I am humbled and honored to have had the privilege to serve you in Frankfort and the kindness, generosity and support given to me over the years will never be forgotten,” Hoover wrote.

Hoover was first elected in 1996 to the House seat, which represents Russell, Clinton, Cumberland and Pulaski counties in southern Kentucky.

Hoover, Rep. Michael Meredith, former Rep. Jim DeCesare and former Rep. Brian Linder paid the legislative staffer, Marissa Espinosa, $110,000 to avoid a lawsuit, and all parties signed a nondisclosure agreement.

In a 2018 deposition, Espinosa testified under subpoena that Hoover had repeatedly groped her without her consent and that she was verbally harassed by three other lawmakers while she worked for Republicans in the state House of Representatives between 2015 and 2017.

Hoover maintained that he “only exchanged inappropriate text messages” with Espinosa, who he sued for allegedly disclosing details of the secret settlement dealing with the harassment allegations. Hoover dropped the lawsuit last month.

Hoover briefly addressed the allegations in his statement.

“I have made mistakes but have learned and grown from them. I am proud of the many accomplishments and improvements we have made to this area since I was first elected and the small part I played in them,” Hoover wrote.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.