House committee investigating Rep. Jeff Hoover holds first meeting

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - Four women and two men will decide whether to recommend expelling Kentucky's GOP House speaker after he signed a secret sexual harassment settlement.

Eight Republican lawmakers filed formal disciplinary charges against Jeff Hoover on Wednesday, asking for a special bipartisan committee to recommend expelling him from the House. The committee held their first meeting Friday.

Democrats appointed Reps. Sannie Overly, Joni Jenkins and Chris Harris. Republicans appointed Reps. Donna Mayfield, Diane St. Onge and Jason Petrie.

Republican Rep. Jerry Miller will chair the committee, but will only vote to break a tie.

Miller says the committee will likely take the proper avenues to subpoena Speaker Hoover to testify in public.

"I would expect so... although I would suspect the ethics commission has done much of that. Their scope might be different than our scope so we will take that and issue subpoenas on our own," said Miller. The committee chair says he also expects them to request the demand letter and settlement agreement.

The group does still need to establish procedural rules, which they plan to tackle on Monday.

Miller said the group will then likely meet in private to decide if there is enough in the complaint warranting an investigation. Once that evaluation is made, the hearings would be open to the public, he said.

Democratic Rep. Sannie Overly released a statement Friday saying that the Democratic members of the committee have not agreed to conduct any private meetings. She said that "given the seriousness of the charges, this process must be as open and transparent as possible.”

No word on the status of the ethics commission investigation underway into complaints against the Speaker.

On Friday, some local church leaders were in House chambers. They are asking Rep. Hoover to resign from his position as speaker.

"We do not need it to get to that point, we do not need that division," said Dr. Hershal York.

"He has lost the leadership ability and the discussion in our state has changed to become about him," said Pastor Jeff Fugate.

The group does believe Rep. Hoover could keep his House seat.

"When you've messed up there comes a time when you need to say I'm simply here to serve and I think he needs to do that," said Dr. York.

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