COLUMBUS — Four Democratic women in the Ohio House on Thursday called for the resignation of a male Republican colleague for his admittedly “irresponsible” and “ill-advised commentary” during a recent closed-door roast of a departing GOP staffer.
Reps. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), Nickie Antonio (D., Lakewood), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D., Youngstown), and Kathleen Clyde (D., Kent) urged the House speaker to remove Rep. Bill Seitz (R., Cincinnati) as majority floor leader, the chamber’s third-highest ranking GOP post, and then seek his resignation from the 30th District.
The women noted that they found it ironic that the comments about current and former female members of the chamber were made soon after sexual harassment training was offered to members. Among other things, Mr. Seitz maligned GOP state Rep. Candice Keller and former state Rep. Diana Fessler with name-calling and suggestive and sexist jokes.
Ms. Fedor called his comments “beyond inappropriate.”
“He glorified a state lawmaker’s sexual harassment of an employee,” she said. “He humiliated the victims of sexual harassment and alleged assault in a room full of 150 people. How many more witnesses do we have to have before we say no longer?
“That zero tolerance means zero tolerance. It does not mean a task force,” she said in reaction to the announcement of Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R., Clarksville) that he intends to create a task force to examine the issue.
The women did not call for similar action concerning state Sen. Matt Huffman (R., Lima), who has also apologized for his comments he made during the same roast.
“We are addressing our wheelhouse,” Ms. Fedor said. “They have to address their wheelhouse.”
Mr. Seitz last week issued an apology to the public and to the two women he targeted after his comments became public knowledge.
“While my intention was to help honor a departing staffer who has loyally served the Ohio House for 15 years, I understand that my words caused great offense and have tarnished an otherwise celebratory event,” he wrote. “I am again truly sorry to everyone in attendance, including staff, others not in attendance, and those who were the subject of my ill-advised commentary that were negatively impacted by my remarks.”
Mr. Seitz, 63, has served in either the House or Senate since 2001. Mr. Huffman, 57, last year returned to the Senate and served in the House from 2007 to 2014.
“I understand why people at the event were offended, and I apologize,” Mr. Huffman said in a statement last week. “I am truly sorry.”
The comments were made during a private event in the wake of the resignations of two members of the General Assembly for improper conduct late last year.
Then state Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay) resigned after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him by a state employee. Not long after, then state Rep. Wes Goodman (R., Cardington) resigned after admitting to engaging in a consensual sexual act with a non-state employee in his state office.
Blade news services contributed to this report.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.