Kentucky House Committee Investigating Claims Against John Arnold to Meet on Tuesday
A special state House committee tasked with investigating claims of sexual harassment against outgoing Democratic Rep. John Arnold will meet for the first time Tuesday morning in Frankfort.The five-member investigating committee formed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has been given the job of examining claims made byemployees of the Legislative Research Commission whom alleged that Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them over a period of several years.Arnold, a Sturgis Democrat,resigned on Friday. (Read past coverage of the John Arnold allegations from WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.)In its inaugural meeting, the House investigating body will concern itself with organizational affairs— move to elect a chairman, establish procedures for the investigation and set a timeline for its agenda, Stumbo said.Arnold, a retired chiropractor who has been a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1995, resigned late Friday afternoon, writing in a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear that he denies the charges but has been “destroyed politically” by media reports of the allegations.Arnold has not commented publicly on the allegations since they were first reported by WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.In the wake of Arnold’s resignation, Stumbo acknowledged in a statement that while the investigating committee can no longer recommend disciplinary action against Arnold, the committee will move forward and present its findings to the House during the upcoming 2014 regular session of the General Assembly.The committee will have the power to summon Arnold for questioning, but Brian Wilkerson, communications director for Stumbo’s office, said that Arnold has not been summoned yet because the committee has yet to formally organize.LRC employees Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper filed complaints with the state Legislative Ethics Commission last month which alleged Arnold had verbally harassed and touched them inappropriately since 2010. A third LRC employee, Gloria Morgan, filed a similar complaint with the ethics commission in August that alleged sexual harassment by Arnold.The five members of the committee include Reps. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington; Rita Smart, D-Richmond; Jeff Donahue, D-Louisville; Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville; and Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington.The committee will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning in the Capitol Annex building.