Calls for the resignation of state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, are starting to mount in the wake of the sexual harassment charges against him and accusations that he’s tried to intimidate one of his accusers.
The latest legislator to come forward saying it’s time for Latvala to step down is Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami.
“I believe Senator Jack Latvala has an opportunity to put service and people first — and that starts by resigning his seat so we can get back to the business of Floridians,” Taddeo said in a written statement, in which she spoke of being a victim of harassment when she was younger.
“While speaking out is never easy, I know in my heart I cannot stay silent any longer. Without going into details, I have been subjected to inappropriate behavior as a young woman by a religious leader,” she said. “While I did not speak out publicly then, I know today, I have an opportunity to add my voice to a movement that I hope reshapes our society. We cannot tolerate anything less than respect from any individual — period.”
Earlier this week, one of Latvala’s Republican colleagues in the Senate called for his resignation in a not so subtle manner.
“This highly respected and regarded establishment is being burnt to the ground and I feel Senator Latvala is running around with the Napalm and the matches,” state Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, told Politico.
Latvala was the subject of sexual harassment charges when six women anonymously told their stories of lewd comments allegedly made by the senator and inappropriate touching by him. One of those women filed an official complaint in the Senate against Latvala.
The woman, Rachel Perrin Rogers, went public last week after she said Latvala and his attorneys viciously attacked her and her husband, and provided various media outlets with enough tips to identify her to reporters.
Perrin Rogers is the top legislative aide to Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, who earlier referred to Latvala’s tactics as a “smear campaign.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed her own complaint in the Senate Rules Committee alleging Latvala of improper conduct for what she says is the intimidation of witnesses in the case, as well as trying to discredit Perrin Rogers. Book did not call for Latvala’s resignation.
The special master appointed by the Senate to look into the allegations against Latvala could wrap up his report by next week. If he decides there is probable cause, the Senate Rules Committee will decide whether to act before sending the matter to the full Senate to hear the case.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has said for weeks that Latvala should resign. On Wednesday, Corcoran predicted in an interview on C-SPAN that Latvala will be expelled.