Sexual harassment in the statehouse: Florida has plenty of bedfellows

Lawmakers “can’t police themselves.”

That’s from a headline in a recent Sacramento Bee report detailing how statehouses around the country — including Florida — are dealing with sexual harassment.

Missouri, Tennessee, New York, Kentucky, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and California are among the states where women say a toxic environment exists in state capitols.

In Florida, veteran Sen. Jack Latvala has been stripped of his post as the powerful budget chief, at least during an investigation into allegations that he groped and verbally demeaned female lobbyists and aides. Senate President Joe Negron ordered the investigation into the allegations regarding Latvala, his onetime political foe. Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, has vehemently denied the accusations.

In California, more than 200 women involved in the political process — including lobbyists and lawmakers — signed a letter exposing what they called a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment. The head of the California Senate has called for two independent investigations into the issue.

Here’s the top of the Sac Bee report:

A powerful Missouri lawmaker’s lust for a 19-year-old intern compelled his colleagues to ban romantic relationships between lawmakers and capitol staff.

In New York, three simultaneous sexual harassment scandals involving different state lawmakers prompted a crackdown in Albany.

And in Tennessee, persistent harassment by a state representative led his peers to expel him from the legislature last year.

Read the rest of the Sac Bee story here.