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Jack Latvala: ‘I Have Had Enough’

Jack Latvala | Florida Senate | Politics

State Sen. Jack Latvala resigned Wednesday amid allegations of sexual misconduct. He maintains he is innocent of the accusations.

CLEARWATER – State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, resigned Wednesday (Dec. 20), day after an investigation concluded that there was credible evidence not only of sexual harassment but likely offered to trade legislation for sexual favors.

Latvala has denied the accusations since they first surfaced and continued to do so in his resignation letter to state Sen. Joe Negron, president of the Florida Senate.

“I have maintained the charges in the original complaint are fabrications and and say that still today,” Latvala wrote. “Unfortunately, except in the one instance in which there were third party witnesses, the Special Master took the word of the accuser over mine on every count. He also went outside the realm of the original complaint and unknown to me introduced an entirely new issue into the process that I had no ability to challenge or rebut.

“That was followed this morning by supposed leaders in the Republican Party calling for me to resign. All of this occurs today even though we still have anonymous accusers with no opportunity for me to have the privilege our U.S. Constitution affords to confront our accusers in cross examination.

“But, I have had enough. If this is the process our Party and Senate leadership desires, then I have no interest in continuing to serve with you. I, therefore, will resign my seat in the Florida Legislature at midnight, Jan. 5, 2018.”

Latvala, 66, who is also running for governor, came under fire earlier this fall when several women came forward anonymously to accuse him of inappropriate conduct that included unwanted touching. An investigation was launched after Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, publicly accused him of inappropriate conduct that included unwanted touching and comments about her appearance. One former lobbyist accused him of touching her and of hinting that he would support legislative items she was lobbying for if she engaged in sexual acts or allowed him to touch her body in a sexual manner.

“This testimony is supported by explicit text messages purportedly sent from Sen. Latvala to Ms. [name withheld],” Special Master Ronald V. Swanson wrote in his report. “The most recent text message purportedly from Senator Latvala concerning possible support for legislation in exchange for a sexual encounter was sent in February of 2016.”

Latvala has said, and repeated in his resignation letter, that he is a victim of a political vendetta. His enemies, he said, have latched onto the national #metoo movement as a way to get rid of him.

“Our country has been caught up in a movement to shine a spotlight on behavior that dishonors women,” Latvala wrote. “Even though I have spent my entire career helping women advance in public service, such as the 14 current female judges in the Sixth Circuit whose campaigns I ran, my political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me. As a husband, father and grandfather of women, I have been steadfast in my efforts to promote them professionally, but perhaps I haven’t kept up with political correctness in my comments as well as I should have.”

Latvala represents Senate District 16, which includes north Pinellas and a portion of Pasco County. He served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002 when he termed out. He was elected again in 2010 and has served in the Senate since then. He is the father of State Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater.

His resignation means that his district will be without representation in the upcoming Legislative session. A special election will be scheduled to fill the seat. It is unclear when that will be.

Jack Latvala | Resignation | Florida Senate | Senate District 16 | Tampabay News

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