State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has announced he is resigning following a scathing report that alleged he not only violated rules regarding sexual harassment but he should also be investigated for possible public corruption.
"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.
"I have never intentionally dishonored my family, my constituents or the Florida Senate", he wrote. "My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me".
The report released Tuesday also includes several other witness accounts of sexual misconduct by Latvala, a Republican who is also running for governor. I have maintained that the charges in the original complaint are fabrications and say that still today.
One of those women, Rachel Perrin Rogers, formally filed a complaint with the Senate Rules Committee alleging she was a victim of sexual harassment by Latvala.
It is now up to Gov. Rick Scott - who repeated a call for Latvala to resign before the announcement Wednesday - to call for a special election early next year for his Pinellas County seat. "If this is the process our Party and Senate leadership desires, then I have no interest in continuing to serve with you".
Pressure had been mounting on Latvala to resign before the reports were completed, but those calls grew louder Wednesday, as GOP leaders called for him to leave office. "Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state", Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
Investigators found additional women who indicated Latvala had a habit of telling dirty jokes and suggesting he would trade support for legislation in exchange for sexual favors.
The staffer says the senator began making inappropriate comments about her clothing and body parts during the 2013 and 2015 sessions and wouldn't stop even after she asked him to.
"I felt it was something he felt entitled to", she noted, while supplying text messages from Latvala along with her testimony. Now the Florida Legislature should make the right decision to root out other misconduct and regain some of its credibility and public trust.
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