Oregon Republican Party responds to sexual harassment complaints against Sen. Jeff Kruse
The Oregon Republican Party has released a formal response regarding Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), after two state senators have filed formal formal sexual harassment complaints against him.
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward filed a complaint on Nov. 21, saying Kruse hugged her too close and for too long, put his hand on her thigh and sat so close their legs touched.
On November 15, Sen. Sara Gelser, a Democrat from Corvallis, filed a formal complaint against Kruse, saying he groped her breasts several times, placed his hand on her thigh inappropriately and subjected her to unwanted kissing on the cheek. Gelser also wrote that at least 15 other women have reported problems with Kruse.
According to the complaint, Kruse said he is "just a hugger" and "a lot of women cry wolf."
Now, two weeks after the second complaint, and after several lawmakers have called for Kruse's resignation, the Oregon Republican Party has released a statement. Kevin Hoar, Oregon GOP spokesman says:
"The Oregon Republican Party is very concerned about and supportive of the victims of sexual harassment and abuse. We also believe that those accused of such abuse, such as Sen. Jeff Kruse, should still receive due process where a thorough finding of facts and a fair and impartial examination of those facts takes place. If such a process finds the allegations to have violated the consistent standard all legislators, and for that matter, all public officials in Oregon must adhere to, then Sen. Kruse should resign. In a state whose leaders gave a pass for decades to David Wu, Neil Goldschmidt, Bill Clinton, and Terry Bean, we are concerned that a highly politicized process egged on by a media stampede may not produce such an outcome. Given the undisputed photographic evidence of sexual abuse by Senator Al Franken, are our state's leaders demanding his resignation? So far, Sen. Ron Wyden is only insisting on a lengthy investigation of Franken, who claims to only be a 'hugger.' Facts and consistent standards matter."
There is currently an ongoing investigation of the claims, which is supposed to conclude early next year. The legislative committee who arranged for the investigation can recommend discipline to the full Senate. Discipline such as censure or expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, as reported by the Associated Press.