Stivers accuses House Democrats of using 'smoke and mirrors' in sexual harassment case

jbrammer@herald-leader.comApril 9, 2014 

FRANKFORT — Senate President Robert Stivers accused the Democratic-led House Wednesday of using "smoke and mirrors" to prevent the public from finding out how the House handled complaints by three legislative aides that a former Democratic lawmaker sexually harassed them.

Stivers, R-Manchester, also contended that the House "continues to fail to protect these women as they try to blame others for something that happened in their chamber."

Stivers' comments came a day after the Legislative Ethics Commission fell one vote shy of finding former state Rep. John Arnold guilty of misusing his public office for his personal benefit.

Arnold, 69, has denied any wrongdoing. He resigned from the legislature last September.

The commission vote was 4-1 to punish Arnold, but five votes were necessary for the nine-member commission to take action against Arnold.

One position on the commission has been vacant for two years, awaiting an appointment by legislative leaders. Three other members did not attend the hearing to consider ethics complaints by three legislative employees — Yolanda Costner, Cassaundra Cooper and Gloria Morgan.

The only no vote was cast by Elmer George, who was appointed in January by House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

In a statement Wednesday night, House Speaker Greg Stumbo defended his actions in the case, noting that he filed a Petition for Censure or Expulsion against Arnold, which led to his resignation.

"The day we learned of the incident we acted to protect our employees and instructed the LRC Director to investigate the allegations and follow our policy," Stumbo said.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said a pending lawsuit filed by Costner and Cooper in Franklin Circuit Court "is the proper forum for all parties to be heard and have the facts of this case brought before an impartial judge and jury."

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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