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Republicans Hire Law Firm To Investigate Hoover Scandal

Republican House leader Jeff Hoover on Election Night.
Republican House leader Jeff Hoover on Election Night.

For more than four hours, Republicans in the state House of Representatives discussed the sexual harassment scandal that has implicated four GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

But leaders of the group were tight-lipped about the discussion when they emerged from the conference.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne referred reporters to a written statement distributed earlier in the day—a statement that hinted at “new information,” but provided few details.

“We’re learning new things every day as we unfold…I’m not going to talk about personnel matters,” Osborne said, with the other three remaining members of House majority leadership standing at his side.

Osborne said Republicans did not elect a replacement for Rep. Jeff Hoover, who stepped down from his leadership post on Sunday amid the unfolding scandal. Osborne has assumed the speaker’s duties for the time being.

Earlier in the day, House GOP leaders announced they hired a law firm to look into the sexual harassment allegations that have been brought against Hoover and three other Republican representatives.

The statement distributed earlier on Tuesday announced that “new information regarding this unfolding situation has emerged today.”

But Osborne did not provide details about any of that new information in his statement or brief press conference after the meeting.

“We remain of the belief that decisions regarding legislators and staff involved should be made when the facts are fully known,” Osborne said in the statement.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville first reported that Hoover and three other lawmakers secretly settled a sexual harassment complaint brought on by a female staffer. The report alleged Hoover exchanged sexually charged text messages and requested pictures from the woman.

Hoover resigned from his leadership position on Sunday, denying that he and other lawmakers had committed sexual harassment, but admitting he had exchanged “inappropriate text messages.”

Republican House leaders — not including Hoover — have hired Louisville law firm Middleton Reutlinger to conduct the investigation.

House Democrats released a statement on Tuesday saying they should be consulted in decisions about the investigation.

“Allegations of sexual harassment against multiple members, confidential settlement agreements to prevent public scrutiny, and additional claims of hostile work environment and intimidation of employees all warrant a third-party, independent investigation,” the statement from Democrats said.

“House Majority Leadership’s selection of a person or entity to perform an investigation of harassment claims against its own caucus members cannot, by definition, be independent.”

The other three lawmakers implicated in the scandal are Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge, Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland and Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green.

This post has been updated.

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