Jack Latvala, a powerful member of the Florida Senate and Republican candidate for governor, resigned Wednesday after two reports said he sexually harassed and made demeaning and vulgar comments to female staffers and lobbyists. "Unfortunately, except in the one instance where there were third party witnesses, the Special Master took the word of the accuser over mine on every count", Latvala wrote in a letter Wednesday to Senate President Joe Negron. "My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me".
Latvala has maintained that the charges against him are fabrications.
According to one such incident detailed in the report, Latvala yelled at an aide about the lack of donuts in the Senate until Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to the state's Senate majority leader, arrived on the scene and said she would look into "the doughnut situation". That came the day after former Judge Ronald Swanson issued a report that Latvala likely inappropriately touched a top Senate aide and may have broken the law by offering a witness in the case his support for legislation in exchange for sex acts.
The sweep of the 33-page special masters report describes a pattern of verbal or physical harassment by Latvala over a period of years toward Rogers and the unnamed lobbyist.
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Scott had previously called the allegations of Rogers, whose complaint triggered Swanson's investigation and report, were "disgusting" and Latvala should step down if they were true.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Scott called for Latvala's resignation calling it "the best thing he can do for his constituents, colleagues, and the state". But, I have had enough. He said he would not comment further. "I, therefore, will resign my seat in the Florida Senate at midnight, January 5, 2018".
"I felt it was something he felt entitled to", she noted, while supplying text messages from Latvala along with her testimony.
"It has been my honor to serve my constituents in the Tampa Bay area in the Florida Senate for 15 of the last 23 years", Latvala's letter says. Now the Florida Legislature should make the right decision to root out other misconduct and regain some of its credibility and public trust.