Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and a woman who settled a sexual harassment claim against him both denied an allegation Monday that they had a sexual relationship, but attorneys for the woman who made the claim in a lawsuit said Tuesday their client stands by her allegation.
House Republican communications director Daisy Olivo filed a whistleblower lawsuit Monday alleging retaliation for shedding light on a sexual harassment scandal in the House Republican Caucus. In the lawsuit, Olivo said Hoover and her colleague had been in an “inappropriate sexual relationship” and that the woman told Olivo a “secret settlement” resolving the harassment complaint against Hoover and three other lawmakers was constructed “to avoid media scrutiny, and it was paid off the public record with private funds pooled from prominent campaign donors.”
On Tuesday, attorneys for Olivo said she “had firsthand knowledge of the allegations in her complaint, as did several other employees.”
“She reported what she witnessed and what was told to her at the time that they occurred, as the complaint states,” Olivo’s attorneys, Shane Sidebottom and Hans Poppe, said in a statement.
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Hoover, a Jamestown attorney, resigned last month as House speaker and acknowledged that he had reached a private settlement with a woman in his office. He denied harassment but acknowledged that he sent inappropriate but consensual text messages to her. The settlement involved three other House Republicans — Michael Meredith of Edmonson County, Brian Linder of Oakland and Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green — and House Republican Chief of Staff Ginger Wills, who was accused of creating a hostile work environment.
Hoover, through his attorney, Leslie Vose, said Mondaythat he has “never engaged in sexual contact of any kind with any staff member during my 21 years in Frankfort.”
On Monday night, the woman in the settlement said through her attorney that Olivo’s allegations are false.
“In her complaint, Ms. Olivo states that former Speaker Hoover and our client engaged in sexual relations. Our client has confirmed this is absolutely not true,” said Garry Adams, an attorney for the woman. “Among numerous inaccurate matters alleged by Ms. Olivo, our client did not advise her that the matter was resolved with 'private funds pooled by prominent campaign donors.”
Olivo’s attorneys said Tuesday that attorneys for Hoover and the unnamed woman should “release that secret settlement to the public record so that all the facts can come to light.”
In her suit, Olivo said Wills and others have retaliated against her in recent weeks since the sexual harassment scandal publicly broke and Hoover resigned as speaker. Blaming her for Hoover’s downfall, they effectively have stripped her of her duties, she said.
House Republican leaders last week asked the Legislative Ethics Commission, which has subpoena power, to get a copy of the settlement and determine whether any part of it was paid for by political donors or lobbyists. That could be a violation of state ethics law.