A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: When ethics go south, God’s still on his side? But public support may be wavering

When ethics go south, God’s still on his side
It’s a free country. Of course it is. People can change their minds lickety-split. No harm no foul, but there are downsides.
A definitive 180 turn might indicate a wavering moral compass, a lack of discernment between right and wrong, thus creating an impression of impulsiveness, indecision, or just plain arrogance.
Take, for example, Jeff Hoover, the erstwhile Speaker of the Kentucky House. Two months ago, when it became public that he had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a female legislative aide, he announced that he would resign his leadership position.

Jeff Hoover

Although Hoover denied the charge, he admitted to sending the woman inappropriate text messages that he insisted were “consensual,” according to an Associated Press report by Adam Beam.
The agreement was signed by Hoover and three other Republican House members – Brian Linder of Dry Ridge; Jim DeCesare of Rockfield; and Michael Meredith of Brownsville.
Hoover’s resignation was to take effect immediately, but such a move was not official until the House met and the resignation could be formally submitted.
But last week when the Legislature opened its 2018 session, Hoover asked the Speaker Pro Tempore, David Osborne, to step in for him “until further notice.” Hoover did not resign. He had changed his mind, attributing the change of heart to input from all sorts of people.
“Both Republicans and Democrats, as well as business leaders, political leaders, and others across the Commonwealth encouraged me to reconsider my decision to resign,” he said.
Absent from this stunning declaration was any mention of specific individuals who made the endorsement. Nevertheless, we are asked to believe that there was a great clamor from an anonymous claque who thinks Hoover should sweep his secret deal under the rug and stay in the legislature.
Still unanswered is the question of whether Hoover and the others who signed on to the agreement paid the woman damages with funds from political donors or registered lobbyists, a potential violation of state law. Meanwhile, an independent investigation has been called for but has not yet occurred, and there is confusion between Democrats and Republicans about how the matter should be investigated and who should be named to the special committee.   
Governor Bevin’s response to the situation has been unequivocal.

“Are we saying that, hey, you’re allowed to be a married legislator, paid by taxpayers to go to Frankfort, and do sexually inappropriate things with your young employees? As long as you’re not in leadership that’s OK? Is that the message we’re trying to send? To me, it’s just disgusting and repulsive and inappropriate.”
Sentiment is growing against Hoover and the three who backed him, with Republicans and Democrats calling for them to resign.
Nevertheless, back in November, Hoover claimed that not only had his wife and daughters forgiven him, but he, “asked for and received forgiveness from God.”
My word. How convenient that Hoover and the Lord have reached consensus. Sounds like another secret agreement.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at calexander9@murraystate.edu. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

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