Jeff Hoover sexual harassment scandal ends with $1,000 fine and public reprimand

By Daniel Desrochers | Lexington Herald-Leader

Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown

A little more than five months after a secret sexual harassment settlement agreement wreaked havoc on the Republican Party of Kentucky, former House Speaker Jeff Hoover reached another settlement Tuesday, this time with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

Hoover, R-Jamestown, agreed to admit that he violated legislative ethics laws, pay a $1,000 fine and subject himself to a public reprimand, saving his seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives. The deal kept secret the details of his alleged harassment of a former House Republican staffer and the settlement agreement he and three other GOP lawmakers made with her.

“I have acknowledged from day one publicly, privately, that the text message banter I engaged in with the staffer was inappropriate,” Hoover said in his mandated admission of guilt. “I acknowledge that again here today. I acknowledge that technically that would violate the ethics statute.”

It took attorneys for Hoover and the ethics commission less than an hour to come up with a settlement agreement Tuesday morning and six of the panel’s seven members approved the deal. The commission could have recommended that the full Kentucky House of Representatives censure or expel Hoover.

“It’s more than a slap on the wrist,” said Mike Malone, the prosecutor for the ethics commission.