Investigative Panel Being Appointed In Arnold Case

Aug 29, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A special committee will investigate sexual harassment complaints against a western Kentucky lawmaker, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Thursday.

Democratic Representative John A. Arnold Of Sturgis
Democratic Representative John A. Arnold Of Sturgis
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Stumbo filed a petition with the House clerk on Thursday, a procedural move that allows the formation of the eight-member investigative committee that could recommend censure or expulsion of Democratic state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis.

The move came on the heels of allegations by three legislative staffers that they were sexually harassed by Arnold. Arnold didn't immediately return a phone call to his legislative office Thursday.

Stumbo said the allegations have become "a distraction" as lawmakers prepare for an upcoming legislative session, set to begin in January, and that he knew of no other way to deal with them.

"This is not a decision I take lightly, and it needs to be resolved quickly," Stumbo said in a statement.

The investigative committee will gather evidence in the case and will have the power to summon Arnold to testify. When members complete their work, they'll report to the full House.

"The integrity of our chamber needs to be above reproach, and I intend to see that we accept nothing less," Stumbo said. "I wish none of this had to occur, but I am committed to seeing it resolved in a way that is swift, fair and transparent."

The allegations against Arnold triggered a public outcry.   Stumbo had promised last week that they would be fully investigated and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the allegations are proved.

Arnold has refused to discuss the allegations since they became public last week.   In the complaints, the legislative workers alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and had made vulgar comments.

The staffers, all women, said in their complaints that they had raised the issue with the Legislative Research Commission, Democratic House leaders and the Kentucky State Police. The women said in their complaints that Arnold, 68, a western Kentucky chiropractor, had been directed by the LRC to stay away from them, but that he didn't obey.

Arnold has been suspended as chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance and Public Protection, pending completion of the investigation.