Latvala Harassment Probes Could Last Through Beginning Of 2018 Legislative Session

Dec 8, 2017

Sen. Jack Latvala
Credit Nick Evans

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, continues to fight against allegations of sexual harassment but there’s mounting evidence he is on the losing end. The state’s House Speaker said recently Latvala could end up being kicked out the Senate in January.

January is when the Senate probe into Latvala’s behavior and the accusations of sexual harassment by six women is set to resume. And that’s the earliest the chamber could take a vote on how and whether to punish him. It would take two-thirds of senators voting in favor of expulsion for Latvala to be removed from the chamber. Meanwhile, Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed a complaint against Latvala—accusing him of trying to intimidate his accusers, including senate aid Rachel Perrin Rogers, who is the first accuser to be publicly named.

Honestly it looks like they're heading toward expulsion," said House Speaker Richard Corcoran, speaking to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. "If he’s expelled he’ll be one of the first sitting members of the legislature expelled in who knows how long. Decades.”

Recent campaign reports show Latvala, who is running for governor, raising very little money lately. Corcoran has called for the senator’s resignation and others have followed suit: namely The Florida Democratic Party and its gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum and Gwen Graham as well as Republican Governor Rick Scott.

“If the allegations are true, he needs to resign," Scott told NPR member station WLRN in Miami.

Rogers is the wife of political consultant Brian Hughes, who has worked with Scott in the past.

Latvala found himself surrounded by scandal last month on the heels of the resignation of Democratic Senator Jeff Clemens. Clemens stepped down after Politico Florida reported he had an affair with a lobbyist. Following that report Latvala spoke extensively about ethics, and personal behavior during the Associated Press’ annual planning day, but he dodged a question about banning relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists.

“My experience has been through the years has been the people who talk the loudest about ethics and conflicts of interest are the people who have the most of them," Latvala told reporters at the time. "I’ve never made a practice to get involved and criticize my opponents or of my colleagues. I figure they have to look in the mirror every day when they get up and they’ve got to account for themselves and I’ve got to account for myself.”

Shortly after, Politico Florida published accounts from then-anonymous women, alleging Latvala had sexually harassed them.

The fighting between Latvala and his accusers has gone on now for more than a month with both a Senate rules investigation and one being conducted by an outside counsel ongoing.

Florida lawmakers are set to return to Tallahassee in January to start their 2018 lawmaking session—with Latvala in the middle of a political storm that shows no sign of dissipating anytime soon.