FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s former GOP House speaker is not going quietly.
Jeff Hoover, who resigned his leadership post Monday because he said he didn’t want to be a distraction, tried Tuesday to make it more difficult for lawmakers to discipline each other. He wanted to require the lawmakers who are trying to expel him from the House to pay for his legal expenses — but only if their expulsion attempt fails.
“I think it’s only appropriate that we adopt a rule that if folks file complaints against someone and are not successful, they should pay,” he said.
Acting House Speaker David Osborne, in his first test as the chamber’s new leader, ruled Hoover’s motion was out of order. But that ruling came after a contentious procedural vote that exposed the deep divisions among Republicans, who are in their second year of control following nearly a century of dominance by Democrats.
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Republican Rep. Phil Moffett, one of eight lawmakers who filed the charges against Hoover, warned his colleagues that voting with the former speaker would cause them to “be held captive to essentially passive-aggressive bullying.”
“We need to stop that in its track today,” he said.
Hoover resigned Monday, more than two months after publicly acknowledging he secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a woman in his office. Hoover denied sexual harassment, but said he sent inappropriate but consensual text messages with a woman who once worked for the House Republican Caucus.
Those text messages, according to charges filed against Hoover in the House, included a request for the woman to send him a photo of her wearing a “black lace g string.”
Hoover announced his resignation in November. But last week, when the House convened for the first time since the settlement was revealed, Hoover did not resign, instead temporarily ceding power “until further notice.”
On Monday, Hoover officially resigned on the House floor. In a blistering speech, Hoover denounced his critics, including Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, for telling lies about him that he says come from “the deepest pits of hell.”
Bevin, speaking to WHAS radio on Tuesday, said, “I don’t know what he is alluding to.”
“All I will say is this: His decision (to resign) is him following through on what he said he would do, and I applaud him for doing it,” Bevin said.
Speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s session, Osborne insisted the controversy has not disrupted the House’s work.
“This is not interrupted one committee meeting, this has not interrupted one bill being passed,” Osborne said.
Multiple House committees have canceled their first scheduled meetings this week, but several are scheduled to meet Wednesday to begin the process of debating legislation.
“There is a lot of tension on this floor,” House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins said. “I believe there is a lot of disorganization.”
Hoover was one of four Republican lawmakers to sign the settlement, but he is the only one facing possible removal. The other three lost their positions as committee chairmen, and at least one — Bowling Green Rep. Jim DeCesare — has said he will not seek re-election.
Hoover told WHAS-TV on Tuesday that he “intends to run for re-election” to his House seat. Hoover has not filed his paperwork yet.
“I feel the best I’ve felt in 10 years,” Hoover told the station. “I’m ready to get to work on the issues.”