This week marks the final committee week in Tallahassee before the start of the 2018 legislative session on January 9.
But, while lawmakers work on legislation, discuss ways to better prepare and respond to hurricanes in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and debate Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed $87.4 billion budget, the sexual harassment allegations against state Sen. Jack Latvala continue to dominate talk at the Capitol.
The latest development involves one of Latvala’s accusers seeking a security to protect her when she’s working. Rachel Perrin Rogers announced last week she is one of the women who accused Latvala of groping her and making lewd comments about her physical appearance over the past few years.
Perrin Rogers is the chief district legislative assistant to Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson.
The News Service of Florida first reported over the weekend that Perrin Rogers attorney, Tiffany Cruz, had sent a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, last week blamed Latvala and his supporters of forcing her client to go public. She accused Latvala and his supporters of “engaging in serious acts of retaliation” against Rogers.
“Ms. Perrin Rogers is requesting that someone from Capitol Police or FDLE be provided to her this week while she will be working in the building. She would like someone to be with her when she comes in the building from the garage and when she leaves as well as to remain in her office area whenever she is there,” Cruz wrote to Office of Legislative Affairs General Counsel Allison Deison in an email sent Saturday morning.
Cruz asked that a either a Capitol Police Officer or an agent from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement accompany Perrin Rogers while she is working at the Capitol.
“She would like someone to be with her when she comes in the building from the garage and when she leaves as well as to remain in her office area whenever she is there,” Cruz wrote Deison.
On Friday, a former Senate Majority staffer and Latvala supporter, Lily Tysinger, filed a complaint with the secretary of the Senate alleging Perrin Rogers of “displaying a pattern of harmful and retaliatory behavior” toward Tysinger.
In requesting protection for her client, Cruz wrote to Deison that Perrin Rogers “does not feel safe with Lily Tysinger in the building and having access to her and her office in light of Ms. Tysinger’s past and present conduct,” Cruz wrote. She said if the Senate did not provide protection for Perrin Rogers, she would independently secure a law enforcement officer.
In a text message, Cruz said the Senate rejected her request that a law enforcement officer be assigned to Perrin Rogers.
“The Senate declined to provide FDLE or Capitol Police as security,” Cruz told the Capitolist. “They agree only to provide a member of the Sergeant’s (Sergeant of Arms) office. Ms. Perrin Rogers has paid for her own private security.”
“I am not able to comment at this time,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said in email. FDLE had not responded as of mid-morning.
Perrin Rogers is married to Brian Hughes, who is a GOP consultant and former spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott.