Kentucky Republican House Speaker Steps Down from Leadership Role After Admitting to ‘Inappropriate Text Messages’ with Staffer

Kentucky Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover has stepped down from his leadership role after settling a sexual harassment complaint, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Hoover, who will keep his seat representing the 83rd House District, said Sunday that he “engaged in inappropriate text messages” with a legislative staffer in his office. But he said there were no sexual relations and that his conduct was not “unwelcome or unwanted.”

Hoover is married and has three daughters. His family has forgiven him, he said.

Three other Republican lawmakers have also been accused of sexual harassment.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Saturday had called for the immediate resignation of everyone involved in the unfolding scandal, according to the Associated Press. He said the scandal involves “multiple events and multiple people.”

After Bevin’s press conference, Hoover initially vowed to continue in his House leadership role. But then he decided that doing so would be a distraction.

“It’s no longer about Jeff Hoover. It’s about more than that,” he said. “On every battle, I know that’s how you in the media will portray it. Me against someone else… It’s not fair to the people of this state. It’s not fair to my caucus members. It’s not conducive to getting problems solved and addressing issues facing us.”

A Jamestown attorney, Hoover has served in the House since 1997. He was elected in January as the first Republican House speaker since 1921. Before that, he served as House minority leader.

Hoover’s resignation from his leadership role comes as lawmakers are discussing what to do with the state’s struggling public pension systems.

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