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Ohio's House Speaker Concerned About Rumors In Statehouse

Cliff Rosenberger
Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio
Cliff Rosenberger

There has been an escalating flurry of rumors at the Statehouse ever since a senator was accused of sexually propositioning a staffer.

Since then, complaints of various types of harassment against three representatives have surfaced.

Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is concerned about the current Statehouse climate and the spreading of unverified stories.

“I think that it’s a dangerous place that when we’re just throwing innuendo and rumor out there without any substantial facts or any backing to those things, and I think it is going a little rampant and crazy,” Rosenberger said.

Rosenberger says he wants victims of harassment to come forward, noting that the three cases against House members were investigated and met with reprimands. He also fears that the increased focus might discourage victims out of fear that their names could be publicly revealed.

On October 18, Cliff Hite abruptly resigned his seat, admitting "inappropriate comments" and "hugs" given to a female staffer with the Legislative Service Commission. Investigative documents show the woman said Hite repeatedly pressed her for sex. In his formal response, Hite disagreed with many of the commission's findings.

House records released this week show:

The House records detail the following cases:

  • Dem. Representative Stephanie Howse was removed from a committee leadership position in June 2016 because of a harassment complaint against her.
  • A discrimination complaint was filed in March of this year by an aide to Dem. Representative Bernadine Kennedy Kent, who was ordered to undergo training.
  • A complaint was filed in 2015 against Republican Rep. Mike Henne of the Dayton area after a comment he made. He temporarily lost his committee leadership position, and has apologized and underwent sensitivity training.
  • In May of 2016, Mark Homyak, a staff member for former Rep. Nan Baker, was fired for inappropriate behavior.