Politics & Government

Hoover derails House second day in a row, goes after ‘Gang of Eight’ with motion

Speaker of the House Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Russell, resigned from his role as Speaker of the House in a floor speech during the General Assembly in the State Capitol in Frankfort on Monday.
Speaker of the House Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Russell, resigned from his role as Speaker of the House in a floor speech during the General Assembly in the State Capitol in Frankfort on Monday.

A day after telling the House of Representatives that he didn’t want to be a distraction, state Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, upended the floor session Tuesday.

With procedural rules suspended, Hoover, who stepped down as Speaker on Monday, filed a motion aimed directly at eight members who filed a complaint asking for his expulsion from the House of Representatives.

“I think it’s only appropriate that we adopt a rule that if folks file complaints against someone, and they are not successful, they should pay,” Hoover said.

At issue was a new House procedural rule, 23A, that called for the creation of a special house committee to investigate charges filed against any member.

Hoover, who is the subject of an ongoing investigation by such a committee, wanted to add a provision that would make a member who files a charge pay the bill of the person they accused if the House does not approve their request for expulsion.

“You will be held captive to essentially passive aggressive bullying from any member of this House,” said Rep. Phil Moffett, R-Louisville, one of the eight members who filed the charge against Hoover, asking for members to vote down the motion.

While it looked like Hoover’s motion was headed to a vote, after around a 30-minute recess, House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne resumed the gavel and announced that Hoover’s motion was filed to the wrong version of Rule 23A, thereby nullifying it.

After months of relative silence about his situation in the House of Representatives, Hoover has been outspoken in the past two days.

In November, Hoover announced that he would resign as Speaker following a secret settlement after a member of legislative staff accused him of sexual harassment. He backed off that pledge during the first week of the session, but followed through Monday in an unprecedented, fiery floor speech.

On Monday, he accused the sitting governor of his own party of spreading “lies from the deepest pits of hell,” and he accused staff members of plotting to take him down as Speaker.

Gov. Matt Bevin, in a radio interview with Terry Meiners on WHAS radio, said he didn’t know what lies Hoover was referring to and said he applauded Hoover for resigning as Speaker.

“People have a chance at the ballot box to decide what they want to do,” Bevin told Meiners, who asked if Bevin was satisfied that Hoover didn’t resign from office.

Osborne, who has been presiding over the House, shook off a question about whether Hoover has become a distraction, saying it was only on the front pages of newspapers because of the absence of any real legislation.

Neither the House nor the Senate has filed a promised bill to reform the state’s pension system, though leadership in both parties have said it will be filed shortly.

“We will pass the legislation that we need to pass because that is the overwhelming commitment,” Osborne said. “Regardless of disagreement of personalities, the overwhelming commitment of the members of our caucus is to pass legislation to deal with these very serious issues.”

However, the situation surrounding Hoover has become an open wound in the House Republican caucus. Not only did Hoover call out a “Gang of Eight” Republicans on the House floor, a vote on whether to table Hoover’s motion divided Republicans.

Rep. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond, who has called for Hoover to resign from office, said Tuesday floor speeches from Hoover could become a daily event until House members get tired of it.

“Did you see the hatred in the man’s eyes?” Morgan said. “This could get ugly real quick.”

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