Hoover resigns, promises to expose those who brought him down

Hoover resigns, promises to expose those who brought him down

FRANKFORT, KY (CNHI) - Jeff Hoover's time as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives came to an end Monday with a dramatic, 20-minute floor speech at the end of which he submitted a letter of resignation.

It was a dramatic conclusion to the two-month drama which began with revelations Hoover and three other House Republicans signed a confidential settlement of sexual harassment claims made by a former legislative aide.

But there were signs — both in Hoover's remarks and in the expressions of some of his supporters afterward — that there may be more political drama to come, in part because Hoover promised to expose those he said schemed to bring him down.

Though Hoover stepped down from the Speaker's chair, he did not resign his House seat and said he retains the support of his constituents in his House district.

And while Hoover admitted he made a mistake in sending text messages to the legislative aide, he again protested: "I did not do anything illegal. I did not do anything unethical and I did not do anything that was unwanted."

Without naming them, Hoover said two House staff employees had supplied information to news media, including telling one reporter Hoover had sex with the aide who made the sexual harassment claims, while he has "solid, credible evidence" another "plotted, planned and schemed this entire situation" because he was passed over for a staff position.

"Then you have a governor who inserts himself into the situation and he begins saying untrue, false and defamatory statements," Hoover said, ticking off statements he attributed to Gov. Matt Bevin claiming Hoover was sexually involved with the aide and had texted her when she was only a teenager.

"I will tell you, and I will tell this governor," Hoover said, "those are lies from the deepest pits of hell."

Hoover said there were others involved, but he promised to expose them all.

"I will fight with everything I have, for as long as it takes, to expose all those people who were involved, regardless of who they are or the position they hold," Hoover said.

He described his depression after the revelation of the confidential settlement, saying he laid on his couch at home for days at a time in the fetal position and turned away visitors and well-wishers who came to his house. He said he lost 33 pounds.

But with his wife Karyn in the gallery, Hoover said his faith in God and his marriage are stronger than either has ever been.

As he concluded, Hoover asked a page to deliver his letter of resignation to the clerk and then he asked to be excused from the House floor. He departed the building without speaking to reporters.

CNHI Kentucky sought comment from Bevin's communications office but had received no response to an email seeking comment by press time.

Hoover's resignation was received by the Clerk of the House without objection. Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, R-Prospect, who has been presiding over the House will continue to do so through the end of his term which expires in December.

In early November, The Courier-Journal reported that Hoover, Rep. Jim DeCesare, Rep. Michael Meredith and Rep. Brian Linder and Hoover's chief of staff signed a confidential settlement of a legislative aide's claims of sexual harassment.

Bevin and eight members of the Republican House called for Hoover to step down and, on Nov. 5, Hoover announced he would do so. But such resignation must be submitted to the full House when it is in session, and the General Assembly didn't convene until Jan. 2.

But in that interim, Hoover said he was urged by Republicans and Democrats alike not to step down. He said he had hoped the Legislative Ethics Commission which is reviewing the controversy might have ruled by Tuesday, Jan. 9.

But when the commission delayed its meeting until Jan. 16, Hoover said it became clear he was becoming a distraction and he did not want to harm the institution of the General Assembly or the House.

When Hoover didn't resign last week, the same eight Republican House members who asked him to resign — Phil Moffett of Louisville, Stan Lee of Lexington, Joe Fischer of Ft. Thomas, Addia Wuchner of Burlington, Kim King of Harrodsburg, Tim Moore of Elizabethtown, Russell Webber of Shepherdsville and Robert Benvenuti of Lexington — filed a formal complaint seeking his expulsion.

A special committee is reviewing that complaint and was scheduled to conduct its second meeting shortly after the House adjourned Monday afternoon.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnhifrankfort.

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