Ohio AG Needs To Open Independent Harassment Investigation Of Seitz, Lawmakers Say
Previous investigation is problematic and flawed, in addition to conflict of interest
June 29, 2018
 
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State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) today asked* Ohio Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine to hire an objective third party to reopen the harassment investigation of Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). The letter comes after it was reported that Taft Stettinius & Hollister, the law firm which conducted the investigation, donated to Seitz’ campaign and had employed Seitz for 36 years. The investigation concluded that the allegations of inappropriate conduct made against Seitz by a female House employee did not constitute sexual harassment according to the House’s anti-harassment policy and said the complaint may have been politically motivated. The basis of the findings, however, directly conflict with the AG’s anti-sexual harassment training given to state lawmakers and staff prior to the event.


“The investigation on the conduct of Rep. Seitz should be redone,” said Fedor. “The investigation conducted by AG Dewine’s office on the conduct by Rep Seitz at a Capital Square event in January, is wrought with factual inaccuracies, spurious allegations and misstatement and misapplication of the rules and laws on sexual harassment.”


After Seitz’ comments at the Republican staff party on January 23, 2018 were made public, several Democratic lawmakers, including Fedor and Antonio, urged Seitz to immediately put in his resignation as Majority Floor Leader and state representative. Seitz apologized for the comments, at a time of heightened attention to inappropriate remarks, and shortly after was cleared from any wrongdoings.


“I don’t believe there is a political motivation in doing the right thing and acting with respect and civility. Rep. Seitz’s comments were harmful and reflective, in my opinion,  of a hostile work environment,” said Rep. Antonio. “It’s up to an objective third party to make a declaration on whether or not Bill Seitz’s words and actions equate to sexual harassment. This behavior is unacceptable and should be investigated by an independent, unaffected third party, which was not the case in this instance where the investigator was both a contributor to Seitz’s campaign as well as a former employer. An independent investigation is called for.”


House Republicans today defended the investigation, issuing a statement saying the Taft Stettinius & Hollister have been utilized for investigations since 2016.


“One week, we were trained by your office that offensive comments made at work-related events outside the formal workplace is prohibited sexual harassment. The next week, a member tested those rules. Months later, outside counsel appointed by your office concluded that the conduct did not contribute to a culture of sexual harassment because it did not take place in the formal workplace. Anyone can see the disconnect between the rules and the misapplication of the rules and laws in this instance,” said the lawmakers in the letter. “The taxpayers of Ohio deserve professionalism in the halls of the legislature and effective accountability when conduct does not meet that standard.”

 

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Ohio AG Needs To Open Independent Harassment Investigation Of Seitz, Lawmakers Say

 

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) today asked* Ohio Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine to hire an objective third party to reopen the harassment investigation of Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). The letter comes after it was reported that Taft Stettinius & Hollister, the law firm which conducted the investigation, donated to Seitz’ campaign and had employed Seitz for 36 years. The investigation concluded that the allegations of inappropriate conduct made against Seitz by a female House employee did not constitute sexual harassment according to the House’s anti-harassment policy and said the complaint may have been politically motivated. The basis of the findings, however, directly conflict with the AG’s anti-sexual harassment training given to state lawmakers and staff prior to the event.



 
 

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