This post has been updated with Hoover’s statement.
The communications director for the Kentucky House Republican caucus sued the Legislative Research Commission on Monday, asserting that she was being unfairly punished for shedding light on sexual harassment claims by a female colleague who was in an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with then-House Speaker Jeff Hoover of Jamestown.
In her whistleblower lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, Daisy Olivo said she and a House aide who was in a relationship with Hoover both were targeted for punishment by Hoover’s chief of staff, Ginger Wills.
Olivo asserted that Wills and other House GOP staff members and lawmakers had shunned her in the weeks since the harassment scandal publicly broke and Hoover resigned as speaker, making it impossible for her to perform her duties, according to the suit.
Olivo’s suit contains several new or more-specific allegations. She said her female colleague told her that the “secret settlement” that resolved her harassment complaint against Hoover and three other Republican state representatives was constructed “to avoid media scrutiny, and it was paid off the public record with private funds pooled from prominent campaign donors.”
Through an attorney, Hoover issued a statement Monday flatly denying both allegations.
“The allegations set forth in the whistleblower lawsuit filed today are absolutely not true,” Hoover said in his statement. “I have never engaged in sexual contact of any kind with any staff member during my 21 years in Frankfort. Never.”
On Friday, a law firm hired by House GOP leadership reported that it was unable to determine how much money was paid in the settlement with the House aide, and it could not identify the source of those funds.
The other three representatives named in the House aide’s demand letter were Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge, Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland and Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green.
Olivo’s suit also contradicts Hoover on the nature of his relationship with the House aide, who recently quit her job.
In his resignation speech, Hoover acknowledged that he “engaged in inappropriate text messages” with a legislative staffer in his office. But he said he never engaged in “unwelcome or unwanted conduct” and added that “at no time were there ever any sexual relations of any kind.”
However, in her suit, Olivo said she had multiple conversations with the House aide, whom she had known for several years. Olivo said the aide shared with her “a written timeline of ‘events’ between (the aide) and Speaker Hoover, including the physical and sexual encounters. … (The aide) proceeded to share … three years of text messages that she maintained with Hoover as well as a detailed timeline of physical, sexual encounters that she had engaged in with the speaker, both during work hours and outside of work hours.”
Olivo said in her suit that she had always disapproved of the couple’s relationship. She initially was under the impression that it was consensual, although Hoover is a married man with grown children, and as House speaker, he was co-head of the legislature, along with Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
Olivo said she became concerned for the House aide in February after Wills, Hoover’s chief of staff, announced in a private meeting that she intended to “create a path to terminate” the aide because she believed the aide was the aggressor and had forced a “submissive” Hoover into their relationship.