Though Ohio’s legislative leaders say that they’re taking harassment seriously, following a string of resignations at the Statehouse over sexual misconduct and other behavior, outside groups are calling for further investigation.
In a statement on November 28, the conservative Ohio Christian Alliance said that “the serious nature of the moral failures of some people who serve the public trust in their capacity as public servants has cast a dark shadow over The People’s House.”
Chris Long, president of the Alliance, says more information is needed about the resignations of former state Sen. Cliff Hite, former Senate Democratic chief of staff Mike Premo and former state Rep. Wes Goodman.
“There’s been a lack of transparency at times, or a slow delivery of public record, in regards to some of these incidents,” Long says. “And I think that the public has some concerns about reports that have been coming out of the Statehouse as of late.”
The Alliance in particular criticized House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger for failing to be upfront about evidence against Goodman. In addition to the consensual sexual situation alleged in Goodman’s office, The Washington Post reported that the anti-LGBT politician sexually assaulted an 18-year-old during a D.C. event, which Rosenberger says he never heard about.
“These reports portray a more disturbing and alarming pattern of moral misconduct and sexual harassment behavior by Mr. Goodman,” the Alliance wrote in a statement. “Therefore, we are calling for the Legislative Inspector General to obtain all records from House and Senate leadership pertaining to these incidents.”
The Alliance called for state Attorney General Mike DeWine to investigate whether any crimes have been committed. If wrongdoing is found, Long wants criminal charges filed, and if lobbyists are involved, he said they should lose their privileges and be blocked from the Statehouse.
Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe says in a statement that lobbying credentials can only be terminated for felony-level conduct and if the office would have evidence of criminal conduct, it would have been reported to police.