Not all fine print redacted in Kentucky House harassment report

Ethics complaint filed against former House Speaker Hoover, others

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A document examined by WHAS 11 News appears to show the amount of loan which former Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover took out to settle at least a portion of his sexual harassment settlement with a staffer.
 

The document released by investigators seems to be mostly redacted, but the fine print may reveal ballpark figures for one aspect of the secret settlement.

 

In the fine print on a page about a closed end loan signed for by Speaker Hoover and his wife, there appears to be a five-digit number. We reached out to Speaker Hoover who declined to comment or confirm the amount in what is a difficult to read scanned copy. But the fine print gives some insight into a report that revealed no bombshells but recommended the Legislative Ethics Commission investigate further.

 

Canceled checks show that Jeff Hoover and Representatives Jim DeCesare and Michael Meredith paid their share of the settlement to the former staffer's attorneys. Representative Meredith appears to have received a loan from his father before writing a check.
 

Attorneys for Middleton Reutlinger, hired by the House GOP to investigate, heard grumblings that inappropriate funds were used but they reported, "…based on interviews and the attached documents, we are confident that this did not occur."
 

Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission hoping that their subpoena powers would reveal more about the settlement amount and details of the case.
 

Investigators say they confirmed reported text messages between Speaker Hoover and the former staffer. They also spoke with 40 people including current and former staffers, the four lawmakers at the center of the scandal and Speaker Hoover's chief of staff. They say all agreed to interviews although only Speaker Hoover agreed to waived privileges and allowed his email be searched.
 

The former employee who received the settlement and one current staffer did not cooperate which the investigators cited as making it difficult to complete their work.
 

"With respect to the claimant, we do not have any evidence of anything that would rise to the level of sexual harassment, but her declining to cooperate leaves us unable to fully answer this question,” investigators wrote.
 

While they claim to have found no other instances of sexual harassment they did find the lack of a clear sexual harassment policy.
 

Speaker Pro Tem Osborne named two lawmakers to head a task force to "develop a formal system within the LRC and General Assembly to address all work place complaints.”

 

He set a February 15 deadline for proposed legislation so it could pass before the end of the regular session.

 

Investigators were troubled by the fact that state ethics laws do not prohibit elected officials from entering into secret settlements.
 

They recommended lawmakers pass legislation to close what they described as a legal "loophole.”

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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