TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Embattled Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala resigned from the Florida Senate hours after Gov. Rick Scott urged him to step down amid sexual harassment allegations.
"Our country has been caught up in a movement to shine a spotlight on behavior that dishonors women," he wrote in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, obtained by our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times.
"Even through I have spent my entire career helping women advance in public service, such as the 14 current female judges in the Sixth Circuit whose campaigns I ran, my political adversaries have latched onto thiseffort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me. As a husband, father and grandfather of women, I have been steadfast in my efforts to promote them professionally, but perhaps I haven't kept up with political correctness in my comments as well as I should have."
An investigation by retired State Appeals Court Judge Ronald V. Swanson determined "probable cause" to further investigate the accusations by six women, including physical contact or sexual intimacy "in exchange for support of legislative initiatives."
Recommendations from the report include:
- Forwarding the investigation to criminal prosecutors
- An investigation into possible corruption
- Sexual harassment training for all senators and Senate staff
- A review of Senate culture
“Now that the special master report is complete and probable cause has been found, it is time for Senator Latvala to resign," Scott said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state.”
Latvala, in his resignation letter, maintained his innocence regarding the allegations.
"Unfortunately, except in the one instance where there were third party witnesses, the Special Master took the word of the accuser over mine on very count," he wrote. "He also went outside the realm of the original complaint and unknown to me introduced an entirely new issue into the process that I had no ability to challenge or rebut."
The letter did not address whether Latvala is still running for governor.
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