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Florida Democratic Party Chair Resigns Over Allegations of 'Creepiness'

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Steven Bittell has resigned following a Politico Florida story containing allegations of “creepy” behavior toward women. Six anonymous women accuse Bittell of leering, making suggestive comments and creating an uncomfortable working climate. The accusations were first reported by Politco Florida and shortly after, all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates urged the Chairman to step aside.

Bittell is the latest politician in hot water over sexual impropriety. Republican Senator Jack Latvala is facing a legislative ethics probe over allegations he sexually harassed several women, and the chamber’s former top Democrat Senator Jeff Clemens resigned over an affair with a lobbyist.

Florida is among more than a dozen state capitols dealing with sexual harassment and assault scandals in the wake of claims against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Former state senator and New Florida Majority Political Director Dwight Bullard says Bittell did the right thing in stepping down quickly.

“His reaction was a responsible one and he didn’t want to drag it out and air things out in the court of public opinion," said Bullard, who lost the Miami-Dade party leadership race to Bittell shortly before he took over the state party.

Bullard says Florida Democrats could chose to promote its first vice president or hold a special election, but neither decision has been made. The allegations against Bittell come amid a national conversation about sexual harassment which has ensnared politicians, actors, business and media leaders. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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