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Questions Over Sexual Harassment Overshadow Policy at AP Meeting

November 2nd, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Elected state officials including the Governor and Legislative leaders laid out their 2018 legislative agendas at a meeting with editors at the State Capitol Thursday, but the spotlight on their proposals was largely overshadowed by questions surrounding sexual harassment.
Two state Senators have resigned in 2017. Senator Frank Artiles stepped down in April after he made racist and sexist comments to another Legislator.
Senator Jeff Clemons quit after it was revealed he had been having an affair with a lobbyist.
After a comment from House Speaker Richard Corcoran suggested sexual harassment may have played a role in the affair, questions surrounding the Senate’s sexual harassment policy began to surface.
“We are a pro-report policy,” said Senate President Joe Negron.
But contrary to the idea the Senate policy encourages victims to come forward, records indicate not a single formal complaint has been filed.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say in the absence of complaints, you assume that there are complaints,” said Negron.
There are also questions surrounding exactly what repercussions lawmakers face if they’re accused of sexual harassment or in the case of the former Senator if they have an affair with a lobbyist.
House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues was asked why there were no actions taken against  current State Representative Cary Pigman, who had an affair with a lobbyist in 2015.
Rodrigues says that affair happened before the sexual harassment policy was tightened to include protections for lobbyists.
“I don’t think an elected official should be using their position that they have, which is one of power over anyone who would be in a subordinate position to them,” said Rodrigues.
On the Senate side, President Negron noted in both recent cases of sexual misconduct the law makers resigned before an investigation into their actions could be completed.
The Senate of reporting sexual harassment is currently being reviewed after two female senators from different parties raised questions about its effectiveness.

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