State House

Two Minnesota Lawmakers Resign After Claims

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “A pair of Minnesota state lawmakers — one a DFL senator, the other a Republican representative — announced Tuesday that they will resign from office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Word of the resignations of Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish came within two hours of each other, capping a stunning sequence of events that vividly demonstrated a new awareness of what many insiders say has been a long-standing tolerance of mistreatment of women working at Minnesota’s Capitol. Both men had been under pressure from leaders of their parties to resign.”

Ohio Anti-Gay Lawmaker Led Secret Gay Life

“In public, Wesley Goodman (R) was an up-and-coming conservative who championed pro-family and anti-LGBT causes and aspired to someday run for Congress,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“In private, he exchanged salacious texts and emails with gay men he met on Capitol Hill, and sent sexually suggestive messages to young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain.”

“Goodman’s double life ended this week when he resigned from the Ohio legislature after House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger was alerted to Goodman’s involvement in ‘inappropriate behavior’ with a man in his state office in Columbus.”

Inside Scott Walker’s Comeback Strategy

After two years of mending fences after a failed presidential bid, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) “has clawed his way back. His numbers have inched up each of the past four quarters, and his approval rating is now back in the mid-to-high 40s,” according to James Hohmann.

“As the GOP primaries continued without him from New Hampshire to South Carolina and beyond, Walker convened the first of more than 100 ‘listening sessions’ in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties. His advance team would set up two whiteboards in the front of every room. The governor would spend the first 20 minutes asking attendees to say something positive about the state, which he’d write down. Then he’d spend the next hour asking how Wisconsin could be better, filling up the second whiteboard. He tried to talk as little as possible.”

“The governor offered several concrete proposals in his budget around the themes that came up again and again, such as opioid abuse and broadband access, but he said the most important result of the sessions was conveying to Wisconsinites that he had not ‘moved on.'”

When You Harass a State Senator

From the Texas Tribune:

Early in her tenure in the state Senate, Wendy Davis remembers having a conversation at a political event with an older man who happened to be a recently elected, first-term House member. Unaware she was a fellow lawmaker, he reached forward, as though to pat her arm, and instead reached between her arm and breast and cupped her breast.

“It wasn’t an accidental brushing,” the former state senator said. “It was a purposeful touching of my breast.”

Davis told her colleagues in the House about the incident and “as a consequence of that, he had a challenge getting anything passed,” she said.

Finally, he apologized. But Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 after serving in the state senate for six years, acknowledged that her position gave her a form of recourse not available to other women working in the Capitol.

What Is Kansas Trying to Hide?

“Kansas runs one of the most secretive state governments in the nation, and its secrecy permeates nearly every aspect of service, the Kansas City Star found in a months-long investigation.”

“From the governor’s office to state agencies, from police departments to business relationships to health care, on the floors of the House and Senate, a veil has descended over the years and through administrations on both sides of the political aisle.”

Bevin Calls for Resignations In Wake of Scandal

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), making his first public comments on a sexual harassment scandal that has rocked the state House of Representatives, called for “the immediate resignation of every individual who has settled a sexual harassment case, who is a party to trying to hide this type of behavior,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

Said Bevin: “These alleged actions, which haven’t been denied, are reprehensible, indefensible and unacceptable. Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately. The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state.”

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R) and GOP leaders are accused of concealing sexual harassment allegations against Hoover and three other Republican legislators.

Six Women Accuse Florida Lawmaker of Harassment

“Six women who work in Florida’s Capitol say the state Senate’s powerful budget chairman, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala, has inappropriately touched them without their consent or uttered demeaning remarks about their bodies,” Politico reports.

“The women, who include Senate staff and lobbyists affiliated with both major parties, told Politico Florida they did not want to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, getting a bad reputation in the male-dominated Capitol or running afoul of an influential politician who can kill their clients’ issues. The incidents, they said, occurred over a period of several years, happening in the privacy of Latvala’s Senate office or in public places like the Capitol rotunda, a bar or an elevator.”

Top Florida Democrat Resigns Over Affair

“The Florida Senate’s top Democratic leader, Jeff Clemens, resigned Friday after admitting to having an affair with a lobbyist during the last legislative session, saying that repairing his personal life was impossible while serving in the high-profile role,” the Miami Herald reports.

Said Clemens: “I have made mistakes I am ashamed of, and for the past six months I have been focused on becoming a better person. But it is clear to me that task is impossible to finish while in elected office. The process won’t allow it, and the people of Florida deserve better. All women deserve respect, and by my actions, I feel I have failed that standard. I have to do better.”

Florida Democrat Apologizes for Affair with Lobbyist

Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D), the incoming leader of Florida’s Senate Democrats, apologized for having an affair with a lobbyist during the last legislative session, Politico reports.

Said Clemens: “I used poor judgment and hurt people that I care about, and for that I apologized long ago. But I also owe my constituents and colleagues an apology and I intend to do just that.”

“The affair between Clemens and lobbyist Devon West came to a head at the end of the regular spring lawmaking session, when West came into possession of Clemens’ Apple laptop, and gained access to all his contacts and personal information and then informed his wife of the tryst.”

Straus Upends Texas Politics with Decision

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R) announced “he will not run for re-election in 2018, a decision that has the potential to upend the political balance of power in the state,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“Straus, who has lately been the most powerful moderate Republican in the Texas Capitol, said he will serve until the end of his term.”

“His decision will immediately set in motion a scrum for control of the House, pitting arch-conservative members who have opposed him against more centrist Republicans who have backed Straus… Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the hard right, most notably a  bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.”

Governor Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Speech

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has declared a state of emergency as hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state gather at the University of Florida in advance of a Thursday event by white nationalist Richard Spencer, USA Today reports.

“The governor’s executive order places the state agency usually responsible for hurricanes at the front of the effort to preserve order during the event. It also places the Florida National Guard on standby.”

Exodus From Puerto Rico Could Remake Florida Politics

New York Times: “Every day dozens of Puerto Ricans pour into the Orlando area, fleeing their homes and lives ravaged by Hurricane Maria. In the months to come, officials here said, that number could surge to more than 100,000. And those numbers could remake politics in Florida, a state where the last two presidential and governor’s races were decided by roughly one percentage point or less.”

“There are more than a million Puerto Ricans in Florida, a number that has doubled since 2001, driven largely until now by a faltering economy. But their political powers have evolved slowly in this state, and the wave of potential voters from the island could quickly change that calculus.”

Group Obtained Cellphone Numbers for Students

Roanoke Times: “Radford University and Virginia Tech turned over documents containing personal information, including names, addresses and cellphone numbers of about 40,000 current students, to progressive political group NextGen Virginia, which is working to boost voter turnout among college students in the Nov. 7 election.”

“NextGen Virginia requested the public information through Freedom of Information Act requests sent to every state-supported college and university in Virginia to obtain cellphone numbers of current students.”