Accusations Hits LeVota
The Senate released its report on the sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Paul LeVota. See it here.
It’s the classic he said-she said. What she says is that LeVota sent unwelcome text messages, invited her to his place under the guise that she’d had too much to drink, then propositioned her. After she rebuffed him, she felt the sting of retaliation, and thus ended the internship early. What he says is that none of what she says is true.
From his statement: Today's independent Senate investigator's report reinforces that these are only allegations made against me, are unfounded, and that there is no proof of wrong doing.
I willingly cooperated with Senate investigators during this process, and it bears repeating what I told the investigators when I was interviewed. At no time did I act inappropriately, through text messages or in person, with this intern or anyone else. I never asked her to do anything inappropriate; I never contacted her after hours, I never made sexual advances toward her, and neither I nor anyone on my staff ever retaliated against her in any way….
LeVota’s blanket denial seemed at odds with several revelations in the report: first, the intern’s ability to describe the senator’s living quarters; second, his reluctance to provide his cell phone to investigators to quickly and easily clear his name; and third, other witnesses who saw texts arrive from LeVota to the intern’s phone during non-work hours.
Pro Tem Tom Dempsey was quoted in the Columbia Daily Tribune making it clear he didn’t see the allegations as baseless… "No, I don’t believe that the report exonerates him," Dempsey, chairman of the Senate Administration Committee, said in an interview soon after LeVota issued his statement… "We wanted to present all the information we had to the press and the public and certainly I would say to some degree, it lacks the hard evidence that someone would want in the determination of guilt or innocence," Dempsey said. "I can’t look at the allegations and say it is baseless. There is something there."
LeVota’s effort to claim it was all fabrication and put it behind him is not happening. That’s because the Kansas City Star weighed in… Jason Hancock broke the Diehl sexting scandal; he wrote the “wolves of Jeff City” story; and last night he followed the harassment report with the an article (see it here) quoting the intern, and also quoting a second intern of LeVota’s – from years earlier – who claimed a similar story of texts and propositions. The intern showed the Star screenshots of the texts. That moves the narrative from he said-she said to a pattern of behavior. LeVota once again denied the allegations.
LeVota may resign. I doubt it. But it’s possible. When politician erects a hard defense of deny-deny-deny, when they finally capitulate it often happens fast and completely.
If LeVota doesn’t resign, the Senate will have to decide what to do. The expected path would be for the Senate Ethics Committee to take up the task and offer the full body a recommendation. That drags things out. I would expect to see a credible re-election challenger to LeVota to emerge.
Accordingly, LeVota and Dems need to see this not as it is today, but as it is over the next twelve months. One rumor is that the intern is considering a civil suit. Drip, drip, drip.
Kansas Cuts Didn’t Ignite Job Growth
Governing Magazine ranks job growth by states. See it here. There’s just no way to the supporters of the Kansas tax cuts can say with a straight face that it has ignited job growth.
This is not to say that tax cuts can’t spur job growth or that tax cuts aren’t sometimes a useful public policy tool. But it’s clear that this tax cut program did not deliver on its promises. Serious legislators should study why they didn’t work in order to keep Missouri from avoiding that pitfall.
Burlison: Boo on Missouri Promise
Rep. Eric Burlison penned an op-ed piece panning the cigarette tax promoted by Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Attorney General Chris Koster. See it here.
Pull Quote: Unfortunately, the tax increase supported by Attorney General Koster and Treasurer Zweifel would completely bypass these legislative safeguards. Instead, it would send hundreds of millions of dollars to universities without allowing taxpayers any opportunity to exercise oversight. This is not the right step for our state to take, and I hope that Attorney General Koster, Treasurer Zweifel, and the university officials supporting this effort will take time to rethink their stance…
From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:
Rep. Nick King Reception – Belvoir Winery – Liberty – 6-9PM.
Jeff Knappen added Allergan PLC; and deleted Actavis PLC.
Hanaway for Governor Inc. - $10,000 from August Busch III.
Reinvest STL - $10,000 from Clayco.
Reinvest STL - $15,000 from Anheuser Busch Companies.
Missourians for Mike Cierpiot - $10,000 from KC BIZPAC.
Happy birthdays to former Reps. Darrell Pollock (54) and Bob Quinn (59), and Comcast’s Tom Krewson (54).