Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux is mandating sexual harassment training for all legislators in the House of Representatives.
In a letter to Rep. Tammie Wilson, Rules Chair LeDoux said that any legislator who refuses sexual harassment training will lose their staff members.
The training will be made mandatory through the existing ethics statute, LeDoux said. The Ethics Committee will meet next week to discuss the training measure.
But their decision makes no difference to her mandate, she said.
“Moreover, regardless of the Ethics Committee decision, as the hiring authority for session I want all legislative staff to have a safe working environment. In order to help establish this environment, all supervisors, including legislators, must be trained in harassment and discrimination prevention.
“ I would not feel comfortable in the current environment allowing any employees to work in an environment where their supervisor is not trained. Therefore, any legislator that is unwilling to attend the training will have their staff authorizations rescinded,” LeDoux wrote.
LeDoux did not address her own role, nor the role of House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, Majority Leader Chris Tuck, and Rep. Scott Kawasaki in covering up a complaint made last March by one of Kawasaki’s legislative aides.
Olivia Garrett made the complaint in writing about Rep. Dean Westlake a year ago in March, but House leadership took no action for many months, until Garrett took the matter public in December.
After receiving no action on her complaint, Garrett made public her letter and said that Majority Leader Tuck had coached her on the proper wording for the complaint, which accused Westlake of inappropriately speaking to her and grabbing her butt in public.
Grabbing her butt would be a criminal offense.
Westlake has since resigned, effective Christmas Day, and Jan. 4 is the deadline for applicants who wish to serve out his term to get their resumes into the Democrats. The vetting of those applicants will be closely watched.
WAS IT A COVER-UP?
Presumably, the new training will hold legislators accountable for reporting incidences of sexual harassment, but at this stage, the Legislature’s harassment policy has not yet been updated, as it is still being reviewed by a special legislative task force. The training would be relying on old rules.
As a member of House leadership, LeDoux is in charge of all staff during session. Any complaints of harassment of staff would have rightfully been brought to her attention by Rep. Tuck and Speaker Edgmon. That’s one of the key jobs of the Rules chair. It appears that LeDoux may have looked the other way when sexual harassment occurred on her watch.
LeDoux, Edgmon, Tuck and Kawasaki have remained tight-lipped and have not issued an apology to the women who were harassed by Westlake after the original complaint was made.
But Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard has asked for an independent investigation into how the complaint from Olivia Garrett was handled so badly.
LEDOUX LANGUAGE POLICE
In March, while the sexual harassment scandal was being buried, LeDoux took action on other matters. She cautioned legislators that they could not use the term “slush fund” or “bureaucrats” when discussing budget cuts. Apparently, on Ledoux’s watch, the language police were on duty last year even if the anti-harassment enforcers were in hiatus.