TALLAHASSEE — With allegations of sexual misconduct felling Hollywood titans Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and bedeviling other powerful figures up-to-and-including President Donald Trump, it seems clear that society is no longer willing to turn a blind eye to this sort of abuse. It’s bad news for the aforementioned transgressors, and also bad news for Florida state Senator Jack Latvala, who’s become embroiled in a sex scandal of his own and—as of Monday—is removed from a key Senate chairmanship.
Latvala, who hails from Clearwater, previously served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Following harassment claims from six women, the Senator sent Senate President Joe Negron a letter Monday asking to be relieved from the chair.
“I understand that you are in the process of hiring an independent, third party to conduct an investigation regarding the anonymous allegations made against me in a recent news article,” read Latvala’s letter. “I am requesting that you permit me to temporarily take a leave of absence from my role as Chair of the Committee on Appropriations until this matter is resolved. I look forward to defending myself against these untruthful allegations and believe I will be fully exonerated.”
Justice was swift and the request granted.
Negron replied in a written statement: “While the independent, third party investigation regarding Senator Latvala is pending, I believe it is in the best interest of the Senate for another Senator to temporarily serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.”
The news of Latvala’s misbehavior broke from Politico Florida on Friday, and the incidents revealed spanned a series of years. The Senator’s accusers have remained anonymous, citing a fear of reprisals.
Originally, the investigation into Latvala was to be led by Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts. Because of her close working relationship with Latvala, though, she recused herself promptly. Her (independent) successor has yet to be selected.
The highly-sought-after chairmanship of the powerful committee will pass now to Republican Senator Rob Bradley, whose successful legislative record seems to suggest he’ll be well-suited to the position.
As for Latvala, the future of his legislative career remains in doubt, and his bid for the governorship has been dealt a heavy blow. Exposed at least in part by recent surveillance of lawmakers, Latvala’s woes could become the woes of others if additional illicit info should surface.
The new legislative session begins January 9th, meaning there’s still time for a lot more excitement to resolve