PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sex, secrets, and silence — it’s perhaps Tallahassee’s worst-kept dirty little secret.
All of it came to light last week when seven women came forward and accused Republican State Senator Jack Latvala of sexual harassment.
On Tuesday, we learned Latvala has hired prominent Tallahassee Attorney Steve Andrews as the state gets ready to hire an independent investigator.
“There isn’t going to be a quick resolution to this,” local veteran political reporter William “Windy” March told News Channel 8.
Latvala could now be facing the biggest political opponent of his career with these allegations, though he has categorically denied them.
“You can’t presume anything until he’s proven guilty but the investigation must identify these women and either verify or discredit their stories,” March said.
Immediately after the allegations surfaced, Republican Senate President Joe Negron sent out a memo announcing an investigation to be headed up by Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts.
The trouble is, Roberts had served as a staffer for Latvala at one time. Citing a conflict of interest, Robert sent out a letter to Negron recusing herself from the investigation.
Now, Negron has promised he’ll hire an independent expert to investigate.
We asked March how Latvala would be able to hire an independent investigator in Tallahassee.
“Well, that’s another problem. Everyone in Tallahassee is involved somehow with the work Latvala does in the legislature and in the Senate,” March said.
Latvala, who was removed as state budget chair on Monday, may have to put his future political aspirations on hold.
“Whether he’s guilty or not, this whole situation tarnishes his name with the public,” March told us. “And again, unless he’s cleared, he really can’t pursue his campaign for governor.”
Latvala recently announced his gubernatorial run. He can’t begin raising funds until the investigation is over and that’s if he’s proven innocent.
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