Politics & Government

House forms committee to investigate claims against Speaker Jeff Hoover

State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown looks on during the General Assembly in the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Thursday, January 4, 2018.
State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown looks on during the General Assembly in the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Thursday, January 4, 2018.

The House of Representatives formed a special committee to investigate whether Speaker Jeff Hoover should be expelled after secretly settling a sexual harassment complaint with a member of legislative staff.

The six-member committee was announced Thursday, a day after eight Republican House members filed a formal disciplinary charge calling for the expulsion of Hoover from the House of Representatives.

House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, appointed to the committee: Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Lakeside Park; Rep. Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester; and Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton.

Mayfield has served in the legislature since 2011, St. Onge since 2013 and Petrie since 2017. Both Petrie and St. Onge are attorneys.

“Everything I know is that it’s going along in good faith and will be fair to the people who made the charge and the people the charge is against,” said Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville.

Hoover has admitted to settling a sexual harassment complaint and having an inappropriate consensual relationship with the staffer, but denies several of the allegations made against him by the members.

Democratic Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, appointed: Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris; Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills; and Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively to the committee.

Overly recently stepped down as chairwoman of the Kentucky Democratic Party and has served in the legislature since 2008. In 2013, Overly was deposed in a sexual harassment case against former Democratic House member John Arnold and fought for her testimony to be sealed from public view.

Jenkins has served in the legislature since 1995 and Harris since 2015. Both Harris and Overly are attorneys.

“Our three members that we have nominated for the special committee, I think are excellent members that will do the job that they’ve been given,” Adkins said.

It is still uncertain exactly how the committee will operate or when it will hold its first meeting. House Republican leadership promised members that the committee would hold public meetings to investigate the claims.

The allegations against Hoover are also being investigated by the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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