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Bevin Says Lawmakers In Harassment Settlement Should Quit

Gov. Matt Bevin
J. Tyler Franklin
Gov. Matt Bevin

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Republican governor says he is not satisfied with the fallout from a sexual harassment scandal in the state legislature, effectively calling for the resignation of four GOP state lawmakers who have already been stripped of their leadership positions.

But Gov. Matt Bevin stopped short of calling for Alabama's Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore to drop out of that high-profile race after allegations of molestation and abuse, saying he is "not trying to cast aspersions everywhere."

Former Kentucky GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigned his leadership position earlier this month after acknowledging he privately settled a sexual harassment claim brought by a member of his staff. Hoover said he did not sexually harass the person, but said he did send inappropriate but consensual text messages.

Although Hoover resigned his leadership position, he did not resign his seat in the legislature. Three other lawmakers also were involved in the settlement, and GOP leaders have removed them from their committee chairmanships. None has resigned.

"Those individuals who have paid money to keep their young employees quiet so they wouldn't talk about whatever inappropriate sexual interaction they had with them, they need to step down," Gov. Matt Bevin told WHAS radio on Tuesday. "You're allowed to be a married legislator, paid by taxpayers, go to Frankfort and do sexually inappropriate things with your young employees and as long as you are not in leadership that's OK? Is that the message we are trying to send?

"To me it's just disgusting and repulsive and inappropriate."

Hoover, through a spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment. Hoover was hospitalized for a heart-related issue days after resigning his leadership position. Doctors released him from the hospital last week. Monday, Hoover wrote on his Facebook page that he has "come to accept and truly believe God has a purpose in all that has happened to me" and that he believes "bumps in the road along life's journey are divine appointments."

For weeks, sexual harassment allegations have toppled dozens of men from their powerful positions in entertainment, media and politics. Most have apologized for their actions. But some, including Republican Moore, have steadfastly denied the allegations.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and others have said they believe Moore's accusers and that he should drop out of the race. Tuesday, WHAS radio host Terry Meiners asked Bevin if he believed the women who have accused Moore of assault and molestation and others who have accused Republican President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. Bevin clarified that he believes public officials who have paid money to settle sexual harassment claims should resign.

"If you keep drawing circles and bands and go with every rumor and every allegation, I mean, heck, you'd probably have six people left working in America. So, the point is, I'm not trying to cast aspersions everywhere," Bevin said. "If other people were to subsequently try to hide these similar indiscretions, they, too, should step down."

Stephen George is President and CEO of Louisville Public Media. Email Stephen at sgeorge@lpm.org.

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