After vowing just two weeks ago to fight to clear his name of sexual harassment allegations, state Sen. Jack Latvala announced Wednesday he is resigning.
“I have never intentionally dishonored my family, my constituents or the Florida Senate,” Latvala wrote in his resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron. “My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me.”
In response to the resignation, Negron issued the following statement:
“Senator Latvala made the right decision. At all times during this investigation the Senate has afforded all parties the full and fair opportunity to be heard. The Florida Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind against any employee or visitor. The allegations in this complaint, and the resulting Special Master’s Report, describe behavior that violates the public trust.”
The resignation follows two special investigations that were conducted by the Senate into the sexual harassment allegations against Latvala that first surfaced in early November. Six women anonymously came forward and told their stories to Politico.
One of those women, Rachel Perrin Rogers, formally filed a complaint with the Senate Rules Committee alleging she was a victim of sexual harassment by Latvala. Perrin Rogers case was investigated by a special master whose report was released yesterday.
Retired judge Ronald V. Swanson, who conducted that investigation, determined Latvala should not only be sanctioned for making repeated inappropriate physical contact with a legislative aide, but also be investigated by law enforcement for allegedly exchanging legislative support on certain initiatives for sexual favors, which is a violation of ethics rules and laws against public corruption.
The report brought calls for Latvala’s resignation from Gov. Rick Scott and others.
“Now that the special master report is complete and probable cause has been found, it is time for Senator Latvala to resign. Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
Latvala has maintained that the charges against him are fabrications.
“But I have had enough. If this is the process our Party and Senate leadership desires, then I have no interest in serving with you,” Latvala wrote in his letter. “I, therefore, will resign my seat in the Florida Senate at midnight, January 5, 2018.”