Reaction from lawmakers swift after sexual harassment reports

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Reaction from Kentucky lawmakers was swift following a report by the Courier-Journal that House Speaker Jeff Hoover settled a sexual harassment claim by a member of his staff outside of court, and claims by Rep. Wesley Morgan (R-Richmond) that multiple members of GOP leadership were involved in covering it up.

Governor Matt Bevin hosted a news conference Saturday afternoon calling for any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim to resign immediately. Soon afterward, Rep. Hoover issued his own statement. The full story can be read here.

A group of eight Republican House members issued a statement Saturday saying “We are shocked and angered by the allegations of sexual harassment, none of which have been denied or even disputed. Contrary to what has been reported, the Representatives at issue did not have the ‘full’ support of the entire Republican caucus."

The eight representatives, Robert J. Benvenuti, Joe Fischer, Kim King, Stan Lee, Tim Moore, Phil Moffett, Russell Webber and Addia Wuchner, went on to say that they "call for the immediate resignation of all members involved in the confidential settlement of allegations of misconduct with legislative staff. We likewise call for the resignation of any house member or LRC staff that participated in, or in any way abided in the underlying conduct or sought to intimidate staff, or otherwise obstruct the reporting or publication of the alleged misconduct.”

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, released a statement, saying "I join Governor Bevin in condemning the inexcusable actions that have come to light regarding members of the Republican House majority, including leadership." She continued, "It is the obligation of state employees — including elected officials — to maintain workplaces where every colleague and constituent is respected. Those who do not meet that standard should resign or be terminated and held accountable."

The Senate Democratic leadership team released a statement:"The Senate Democrats have a zero tolerance for sexual harassment. We should immediately start a thorough and independent investigation to change the culture in Frankfort once and for all."

Kentucky House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins also released a statement: "The House Democratic Caucus is against workplace harassment in any shape or form, and given the allegations that have been publicized today and in the recent past, it is necessary that an independent, objective and full investigation be done. Those individuals who have been proven to have engaged in harassing conduct or anything else improper should do the right thing and resign from their positions."