Dear Boone County Friends,
With respect for the trust you place in me as your representative in Frankfort, I have always tried to keep those I serve informed of my decisions and actions. It is important to me that I share with you an account of recent events and my recent decisions and actions, as you deserve no less.
As of 5 PM today, Monday January 8th, Jeff Hoover has stepped down from his post as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. It is my understanding that the Special Committee outlined below will continue their investigation of the scandal cover up and agreement and the Legislative Ethics Commission will continue their investigation.
Backtracking I will try to provide an accurate timeline of the roller coaster of events that have unfolded over the last two moths.
As many of you are already aware, in early November the Louisville Courier Journal reported that Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim for an undisclosed amount, brought against him by a member in his Frankfort staff. On the following Saturday, the Herald-Leader reported that the claim had also alleged harassment by three other lawmakers who were included in the settlement agreement. On Sunday, November 6th, Speaker Hoover held a press conference to announce his resignation and that he would return to Frankfort but step down as Speaker. On Tuesday January 2, withdrew his decision to resign.
Words can not express the heaviness of my heart, devastation and disappointment when I first read that a secret settlement agreement had occurred between the Speaker and others and a House Leadership staff and LRC employee. I read the article over and over in disbelief, praying there had been some terrible mistake. Still today, I continue to pray for the Speaker and the others, especially for their families, praying as well for the young lady who brought forth the charges, all our staff and work associates, our Caucus, and this entire institution and Kentucky.
Following the Speaker Jeff Hoover’s formal apologies and announcement that he would step down as Speaker, our remaining majority House leadership team lead by Speaker Pro-tem, David Osborne took charge, rolled up their sleeves and have worked tirelessly to lead not only the majority Caucus, but prepare the entire House of Representatives for the 2018 legislative session that began first week of January.
While the last two months in Frankfort have been very unsettling, my colleagues have been remarkable amidst the chaos. I have watched each member continued to serve their constituents, work on pensions, study policy and prepare for the 2018 Session in which we are required to set forth the budget under which the state operates for the next two years.
Leadership and our majority caucus members have pushed on diligently, as Twitter chatter swirled, and news of internal investigations, whistle blower charges were filed, allegations of hostile work culture, alleged FBI investigations, Legislative Ethics Commission investigations filled the headlines of newspapers across Kentucky. As rumors surfaced that Jeff Hoover would not step down, as he had publicly announced in November, this only added to the pressures and confusion amongst the members and the public.
On Tuesday, January 2, the Kentucky House and Senate gaveled in the 2018 Session at noon. Shortly before we entered the House chambers, a letter from Jeff Hoover was shared with us, stating that he had reconsidered the matter and would not step down as Speaker but “step aside” until further notice.
Our responsibility to this Commonwealth and the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution demands our action. Since the report of the secret financial settlement signed by the Speaker and others was reported it has overshadowed and distracted from the monumental tasks before this institution.
Last Wednesday afternoon I joined seven of my House colleagues in filing formal charges with the Kentucky House of Representatives that ask for Kentucky’s House speaker, Jeff Hoover, to be removed from office.
The formal disciplinary charges filed against the Speaker Hoover result from actions that occurred while he was serving as Minority Leader, Speaker of the House and Co-Chair of the Legislative Research Commission. The charges include sexual harassment of an employee under his direction, using his official position to direct a cover up that resulted in a confidential agreement with an employee and others and a financial settlement, creating a hostile work environment due to inappropriate workplace behaviors, and exposing the Legislative Research Commission to additional liabilities and litigation.
This matter was bigger than the daily headlines that circulated the sorted details in every paper in the Commonwealth and as well as national news. There were collateral victims… women and workplace culture, the Kentucky House of Representatives and the collective integrity of this institution, and the sacred trust of the people we serve. We have a duty to the citizens we serve and to the Institution to police ourselves and hold ourselves accountable.
Public service and leadership must submit to the higher standard that Kentuckians have placed in us. We are all human; we each have our own failings and faults. This was not a passing affair or indiscretion; it became more complicated and revealed a complex blight of secrets and unwise solutions. It is a reflection of a legislative work culture that historically has not fully respected women.
Investigators, Legislative members, and the public are trying to sort out the details, it critical we aside emotions and apply reason and rational thought to our attitudes and actions. We are not only friends or work colleagues, we share a common bond as elected public servants entrusted with a responsibility to serve the citizens and make decisions and policies for our Commonwealth – this privilege is granted by you.
As a result of our formal charges files last Wednesday, Representative Jerry Miller, Chair of House State Government Committee, today announced the constitution of a Special Committee pursuant to Rule 23A of the Kentucky House of Representatives in response to allegations of misconduct by a House member.
The committee is charged with investigating the charges brought forth on January 3, 2018 against Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, requesting his expulsion from the House. The committee will investigate the factual basis of the allegations and ultimately render a recommendation of action by the full House. This process should be publicly transparent and comprehensive.
In response to the November 2016 elections, the new majority promised the citizens of Kentucky, a new era, that we would lead our Commonwealth, remedying the old problems that have held our State back, with bold solutions.
In the 2017 Legislative Session, we demonstrated our commitment and accomplished much in that hallmark thirty day session! The House and Senate have much work to before us as we begin the 2018 Legislative Session, it is imperative forward.
Thank you again for your trust and allowing me to serve you, your families and businesses in Frankfort. Please do not hesitate to contact me at my Frankfort office (502.564.8100 ext. 707) with your thoughts on policy or other matters.
Addia K. Wuchner
House District 66