Republican senator Jack Latvala resigned from the Florida Senate Wednesday afternoon after a special report released Tuesday found probable cause for sexual misconduct allegations levied against him.
Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi called for Latvala’s resignation after the detailed was released.
“Now that the special master report is complete and probable cause has been found, it is time for Senator Latvala to resign,” Gov. Scott said. “Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state.”
The governor’s statement was a severe blow for Latvala as Scott has routinely supported and praised him in the past.
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Later, Attorney General Bondi released a statement also calling for Latvala’s resignation.
“I am appalled by the findings of the special master report. How can we trust Senator Latvala as a lawmaker to create the rules by which we live when he refuses to follow them? Not only did he fail to respect the confidentiality of the accuser’s name during the course of an investigation, creating a chilling effect on other victims, but now, the special master report shows probable cause. Senator Jack Latvala should resign immediately,” Bondi said.
A special master investigator appointed by the Senate to investigate the accusations against Latvala says he should be sanctioned and face a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation. The allegations include Latvala making inappropriate comments and unwanted physical contact to a female Senate staff member over several years.
The staffer says the senator began making inappropriate comments about her clothing and body parts during the 2013 and 2015 sessions and wouldn’t stop even after she asked him to.
Then, she claimed, it escalated to rubbing her thighs in 2015 in the bar of the Governors Club Lounge. The report says that Latvala continued the behavior in both 2016 and 2017.
The senator denies the allegations, and in testimony to the investigator said he would not make those kinds of comments to the staff member because “she is someone who would be very unpredictable with any kind of remarks like that."
The special master said that though Latvala had been through sexual harassment training, he did not recognize that those types of comments were offensive and recommended Latavala be sanctioned for violating Senate rules.
Latvala had posted a response to the report’s initial release Tuesday night on Facebook.