FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Republican governor says a sexual harassment scandal in the statehouse involves "multiple events and multiple people" and has called on everyone involved to resign immediately without naming them publicly.
Gov. Matt Bevin held a news conference at the state Capitol on Saturday, days after the Courier-Journal reported Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover settled a sexual harassment claim outside of court with one of his staffers.
"I am calling ... for the immediate resignation of every individual who has settled a sexual harassment case who is party to trying to hide this type of behavior," Bevin said. He stressed that the allegations have not been denied and that they "were not isolated to a single person or a single event but involve multiple events and multiple people."
"This is not about naming specific names. It is about specific behaviors," Bevin said. Bevin did not answer questions from reporters. As he was leaving, a reporter asked if Bevin wanted Hoover to resign.
"You heard me," he said.
Hoover has refused to confirm or deny the settlement. But in a private meeting with House Republicans, Hoover said he was "legally" prohibited from talking about it and said he had asked for forgiveness from his family, according to Republican state Rep. Wesley Morgan who attended the meeting.
Saturday, House GOP leaders issued a news release saying they planned to hire a private law firm to investigate the allegations. The leaders said they had not consulted Hoover about the decision, but had told him about it. The release said the investigators would have the power to subpoena witnesses.
"Speaker Hoover, as of now, has the support of the Republican caucus to remain in his leadership position," according to a statement attributed to Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher and Majority Caucus chairman David Meade. "And we reserve the right, based on the results of the investigation, to revisit the status of anyone involved, including Speaker Hoover."
But Hoover does not have the support of all Republican lawmakers. Morgan, the Republican state representative from Richmond, posted on his Twitter account that Hoover should resign immediately. He accused Hoover and other Republican leaders of conspiring to hide allegations of sexual harassment, including threatening whistleblowers "with loss of employment and physical intimidation."
Morgan confirmed the tweets in an interview with The Associated Press. A spokesman for Hoover and other House GOP leaders did not respond to a request for comment on Bevin's and Morgan's comments.