Florida House Speaker Says He Saw Misconduct By Legislators

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Wednesday that he has personally confronted former state legislators who sexually harassed others, but he won’t name names.

One of the fiercest critics of lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct, Corcoran said none of those legislators are in office in now and that the incidents occurred before he became speaker.

“I did report, I did talk to the legislators involved and it was resolved,” Corcoran said, adding later that “to the extent that there was a violation, that violation needed to be addressed, and it was addressed. And the behavior was curbed.”

The bad behavior, Corcoran said, occurred throughout his political career, including when he worked as chief of staff in 2007 for then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, now a U.S. Senator.

Corcoran boasted in a December television interview that the House imposed tough new sexual harassment rules for its members in 2016 in response to what he called “grossly inappropriate” and “illegal” behavior from “male pigs.” Those rules included mandatory training for House members.

Corcoran said this week he did not report any of these incidents to authorities. Corcoran said he could not give an exact number of how many legislators he witnessed engaging in misconduct, but added that there were probably “less than 10.”

A Republican considering a bid for governor, Corcoran has been the most outspoken Republican in the Florida Capitol denouncing sexual misconduct, especially in the Florida Senate.

In October, Corcoran denounced an extramarital affair between Sen. Jeff Clemens and a lobbyist. Clemens resigned after Politico Florida first reported the story. At the time, Corcoran said, he was “greatly disturbed” by Clemens’ behavior and he maintained that because a lobbyist is dependent on legislators, “the facts here raise a very real question of sexual harassment.”

“I’m disappointed in the response of the senators who were aware of the situation,” Corcoran said. “Rather than addressing the wrongdoing, they seemed to have formed a wall of silence. An apology is not the same thing as accountability.”

A week after Clemens resigned, the publication then reported that his ally, Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala, was accused by six women in the Florida Capitol of sexual harassment. Corcoran was the first prominent Republican to call on Latvala to resign. Latvala, who denied wrongdoing, quit last month after an investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct by the Republican.

The wave of scandals has reverberated through the Capitol and has prompted Senate leaders to say they will soon overhaul that chamber’s sexual harassment policies.