Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover calls Gov. Bevin 'very misinformed'
Speaker Jeff Hoover did not say much Wednesday morning, but he did comment briefly about his decision not to resign.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover offered brief comments to a handful of reporters Wednesday morning, the day after the House convened without Hoover offering his resignation as expected.
In November, Hoover indicated he would resign his leadership position after acknowledging he settled a sexual harassment claim with a female legislative staffer but recently said he's reconsidering that decision.
On Wednesday morning, Hoover was among lawmakers attending a mandatory ethics workshop, which included anti-sexual harassment training for House members.
Hoover was asked about his detractors, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who has said that anyone holding a public office in Kentucky who has settled sexual harassment claims without denying the allegations should resign.
"Well, he's very misinformed, but beyond that, I'm not going to say anything," Hoover said.
Hoover was also asked whether his decision not to offer his resignation on Tuesday meant that he would wait until the outcome of a Legislative Ethics Commission investigation, which involves three other House members.
"There's a lot of things in play, and that's one of them," he said.
Beyond that, Hoover deflected reporters' questions.
"I just want to rely on my statement right now," he said.
In that statement, issued Tuesday, Hoover said he has asked Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne to preside over the House "until further notice":
“When I announced on November 5th my intention to resign as Speaker of the House, I felt, based on the Governor’s comments, it was the best decision for me, as well as for my colleagues in the House of Representatives. My decision was made primarily with the intent to protect House members from the intervention of the Executive branch into purely legislative matters.
Almost immediately, I began hearing from members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats, as well as business leaders, political leaders and others across the Commonwealth, encouraging me to reconsider my decision to resign.
As I consider the best course forward, and in light of the two pending issues before the Legislative Ethics Commission, I have asked Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne to serve, as the Rules of the House of Representatives provides, as the presiding officer until further notice.
I appreciate the continued prayers and support that have been offered by so many and look forward to doing my part to make the Commonwealth of Kentucky a better place for all of us.”
Hoover said Tuesday that several lawmakers have asked him to reconsider his resignation. He has denied committing sexual harassment but acknowledged sending inappropriate but consensual text messages to a woman who worked for the House Republican Caucus.
But critics on both sides of the aisle criticized Hoover's decision to remain as Speaker.
“Any man of any common decency would resign, and resign immediately,” said Rep. Wesley Morgan (R-Richmond). “It appears that this is the House of Hoover and not the House of Representatives of the state of Kentucky.”
“The Good Book says, 'Let your yes be yes, and your no be no,' said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville). "And he said he was going to resign, he should resign."
But some House members are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.
“I have don't any power to remove him at this point, so we're waiting for the investigation to come back, and then we'll figure out where we are,” said Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville).
“That's a decision that he's going to have to make, and he's probably going to be in consultation with other folks as well,” said Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-Lakeside Park).
Many lawmakers are concerned the leadership confusion will distract from important business.
“We're focused on pensions. We're focused on tax reform," said Rep. Ken Fleming (R-Louisville). "There's a lot of things going on, and we need to keep our eye on the ball."
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