Clearwater Republican and former Senator Jack Latvala reaches ethics settlement after sexual-harassment allegations

Latvala resigned from the Senate after the release of a special master report into allegations he had sexually harassed a Senate aide.

click to enlarge Clearwater Republican and former Senator Jack Latvala reaches ethics settlement after sexual-harassment allegations
Kimberly DeFalco
Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, who resigned from the Florida Senate in 2017 after sexual-harassment allegations, has reached a proposed settlement involving related ethics accusations.

Latvala agreed to the proposed settlement Tuesday with Elizabeth Miller, advocate for the Florida Commission on Ethics.

If the ethics commission signs off, Latvala could face a public censure and reprimand, with the matter forwarded to the Senate for further action.

In what is known as a joint stipulation and recommended order, Latvala admitted to using “poor judgment” in a consensual two-decade relationship with a female lobbyist, which “may have constituted a technical violation” of state law.

The agreement said there is “no evidence that this affected his official actions in any way.”

The settlement would lead to dismissal of other allegations, “as the evidence does not warrant moving forward.”

Latvala resigned from the Senate after the release of a special master report into allegations he had sexually harassed a Senate aide.

Latvala, who was Senate budget chairman at the time, denied wrongdoing but admitted he had an extramarital affair with a former lobbyist, whose testimony prompted the special master to recommend a probe into whether Latvala had broken state laws by promising legislative favors in exchange for sex.

The report also found probable cause to support allegations that Latvala groped the Senate aide and engaged in a pattern of making unwelcome remarks about women's bodies.

In July 2018, the Leon County state attorney’s office announced there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to whether Latvala promised legislative favors.

The settlement Tuesday said it is unlikely evidence could establish clear and convincing proof that Latvala’s behavior violated state law.

“Respondent (Latvala) enters into this joint stipulation with the understanding of the seriousness of the violation and gives his assurance that this proceeding has affected the manner in which he conducts himself as a public official in a positive way,” the agreement said.
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