State Politics

Galvano says Latvala harassment investigation could take until January

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican and the Senate’s incoming president who has kept a low profile in the sexual harassment investigation of Sen. Jack Latvala, told the Herald/Times it could be January before the case is resolved.

“I believe that the special master’s report will come out before too long — maybe not this week but the next eight to 10 days,” Galvano said. “That’s not because I have official knowledge, that’s because of the timing in this process. Of course, we’ll be out of committee.

“It’s within the president’s prerogative to call a special Rules Committee meeting but, based on my experience I would think it would be more in January, after everybody’s had a chance to adjust what the special master has come up with,” he said.

“It’s my hope that — and I have no reason to doubt this — that there’s been a thorough investigation that the special master will have a detailed report for the Rules Committee to review with recommendations. As a lawyer, former Rules chair, a member of the Senate Rules Committee, once you afford that due process to occur, you see what is presented and then deliberate and make decision on that.”

Latvala bored
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, attends a hearing on May 5 at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Mark Wallheiser AP

Galvano said the precedent they will follow mirrors that of former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who faced a complaint from a Clearwater Democrat and ultimately resigned as speaker in February 2009 amid misconduct allegations. Galvano was the House Rules Committee chair at the time, and led the House Committee on Official Standards and Conduct which was prepared to investigate and potentially oust Sansom before he resigned.

“There is a rules process in place — very similar to what we dealt with in the House years back,” Galvano told the Herald/Times, “when we had the issue with the speaker. How it works is a complaint is filed. It’s reviewed by the Rules chair to determine of it they are reading it in a light most favorable to the claimant. Would those allegations rise to a level that requires further investigation? Therein lies the appointment of the special master, who will then make recommendations to the Rules Committee with findings and the Rules Committee can deliberate on it, under the direction of the chair and then make the recommendation to the full chamber.”

Galvano noted that the second investigation, involving Gail Golman-Holtzman of the Jackson Lewis law firm, is designed to determine if the other allegations against Latvala are true by providing anonymity to women to come forward with allegations. What will come of that?

“I don’t know how or what has come through that,″ Galvano said. “I’m equally interested in seeing how that plays out.”

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