A Republican lawmaker in Oregon was stripped of legislative power and aggressively admonished for allegedly “groping” another legislator and then failing to grasp the criticism of his actions.
State Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) was stripped of all committee assignments, which under Oregon parliamentary rules, means Sen. Kruse will be unable to amend legislation.
Now KGW News has obtained a powerful letter that Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salen) sent to Sen. Kruse.
“This week I was made aware that your behavior toward women in the workplace has also gone unchanged,” Sen. President Courtney wrote. “You were instructed in March…that you were not to touch women at work. Period.”
“If somebody is stretching your comfort level, why wouldn’t you say something to them, rather than make a big political thing about it?” Sen. Kruse wondered on Monday. “I’m assuming at this point you cannot touch a woman on her shoulder, or you cannot whisper in her ear, or anything like that.”
“Continuing to touch women at work is inappropriate workplace conduct of which you have already been warned,” wrote Sen. Courtney. “Let me be very clear. Women in the Capitol do NOT want you to touch them.”
Courtney also said that the door to Sen. Kruse’s office will be removed on Friday.
The entire scandal came to light after Oregon Republicans tried to tarnish Democrats for Harvey Weinstein’s alleged pattern of sexual misconduct. When former Senate Republicans spokesman Jonathan Lockwood tried to link Democratic state Sen. Sara Gelser to Weinstein, she asked a question in response.
“Will you ensure no member of your caucus inappropriately touches or gropes female members and staff in the capitol?” Sen. Gelser asked the Republican operative.
It was Lockwood’s tweet which ultimately resulted in the Republican legislator being admonished.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick recalls saying “get your hands off Sen. Gelser” when she saw Sen. Kruse with his hands wrapped around Sen. Gelser on the floor of the Senate.
Sen. Gelser claims the unwanted workplace touching has been going on for years. She has served in the legislature with Sen. Kruse for a dozen years.