Rep. Jeff Hoover resigns as Ky. House Speaker

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Shortly after the Kentucky House gaveled into session on Monday afternoon, House Speaker Jeff Hoover took the floor to resign his leadership post.

In a fiery speech, Representative Hoover maintained he did not sexually harass anyone, called out Governor Matt Bevin and described what news of his sexual harassment settlement did to his health.

This all began last fall when the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Representative Hoover settled sexual harassment claims against him. Three other lawmakers were reportedly involved in the settlement as well.

Days after the report, Representative Hoover held a news conference where he acknowledged the settlement. He admitted to sending inappropriate text messages but said everything that happened was consensual. During that news conference, he also said he would resign as house speaker.

When the House gaveled into session on January 2 for the first day of the 2018 general assembly, Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne was the one leading the house. Representative Hoover said he asked Representative Osborne to lead the House on his behalf.

The next day, on Wednesday, January 3, he told WKYT he did not think he should resign.

"I don't think I should resign. At this point, I've changed my mind and I'm sort of in limbo talking with our members in deciding our best course forward. The biggest concern for me is not Jeff Hoover being speaker. My biggest concern is legislative independence because I really believe we are dangerously close to losing that in this state and I know that if I am speaker, I will stand up for the legislature when there are disagreements with the Executive Branch or anyone else," said Representative Hoover.

In his speech on the House floor on Monday, Representative Hoover said he made a mistake but maintained he did not engage in sexual harassment.

"I did not do anything illegal. I did not do anything that was unethical. I did not engage in anything that was unwelcome or unwanted," said Representative Hoover.

He talked about the impact the news of the settlement had on him. He says he fell into isolation and depression, curled up in a fetal position on the couch, cried and lost 33 pounds. He spent three days in the hospital in late November with what he described as a "light heart attack."

In Monday's speech, Representative Hoover also called out Governor Matt Bevin for "inserting himself" in the issue and for making claims that were "lies from the deepest pit of hell." In the days after news of the settlement involving Representative Hoover and other lawmakers broke, Governor Bevin called on those lawmakers to resign from the legislature.

Representative Hoover went on to say said he'd been betrayed, lied to and found out who his real friends are. He vowed to return to the House on Tuesday to continue fighting for Kentucky.

"I will continue fighting for Legislative independence," Representative Hoover said. "I will be back here tomorrow fighting for what I believe in."

The Republican Party of Kentucky released a statement following Representative Hoover's resignation, saying "This has been a very difficult and emotional time for all concerned. Jeff Hoover has followed through with his word. We now look forward the General Assembly moving on to address the important work ahead of them.”

The House Democratic Caucus released a statement on behalf of Democratic House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins who said "I, along with our House Democratic Caucus, believe Jeff made the right decision stepping down as Speaker, as he had said he would do. This allows the institution to move forward, especially with the tough issues that need to be addressed during this session."



 
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