Investigations Politics

A high-ranking official in the Kentucky Department of Education resigned after an investigation published Tuesday detailed an allegation by a former legislative staffer that he made a sexually suggestive remark.

Kentucky Department of Education communications director Jessica Fletcher confirmed on Wednesday that Brad Montell — the department’s director of government relations and a former state representative — was no longer with the agency.

Wednesday evening, Montell posted his resignation letter on Twitter. He said he resigned to “prevent recent events from creating a distraction” from the objective of working for Kentucky children.

A former staffer for Republicans in the House of Representatives made the allegation in a sealed deposition obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Kentucky Public Radio. Montell’s name was not associated with the sexual harassment scandal until KyCIR reported on the contents of the deposition.

In the deposition, the woman said that Montell made the remark when she asked him to donate to a candidate she was working for.

“There was also a legislator that was a legislator at the time asked me to—when I asked for a campaign donation for a candidate I was working for, told me he would only donate if I sat in his lap and signed the checks for him. That was Representative Brad Montell,” the woman testified.

Montell represented House District 58 in Shelby County until 2016, when he didn’t seek re-election.

He served as deputy secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet until the summer of 2018 when he was named director of government relations for the Kentucky Department of Education.

Montell was not one of the four legislators who signed a $110,000 out-of-court settlement with the woman over sexual harassment and assault allegations.

According to the testimony the staffer gave under oath in October 2018, former House Speaker Jeff Hoover sexually assaulted her more than 50 times during her employment, groping her in the hallway or in the elevator and touching her between her legs under the table at gatherings.

She described it as “nearly daily touching,” and said she didn’t feel as though she could ask him to stop.

The woman was subpoenaed to testify after two of her former supervisors filed suit against the Legislative Research Commission, alleging they were retaliated against for reporting the sexual harassment allegations against Hoover.

Correction: Brad Montell’s former House district was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.
R.G. Dunlop is an investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms.