KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just last week, Rep. Kip Kendrick made available to the press and the public his lengthy recommendations for a re-write of the policies governing House members’ conduct and how the Missouri Capitol should handle accusations of sexual harassment.
His recommendations come as a House task force sets about writing new standards for those policies after House Speaker John Diehl resigned after it was reported he’d exchanged racy text messages with a young intern. When Diehl resigned, a Democrat state senator was being investigated for soliciting sex from his female intern and allegedly punishing her when she rebuked his advances.
Both men saw their legislative careers end as a result of the scandals, and stories about the “toxic” culture of Jefferson City have been leaking from the Capitol building for months since. Amid calls for a better legislature, Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, who also serves as the chair of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, has authored a much shorter policy which he emailed to every House member and their staff.
“As opposed to just talking about the problems here are my policy recommendations.
- don’t have sex, send sexual messages, naked pictures, or anything sexual to an intern.
- No sexting, no asking for sex,
- Be smart & live in reality
- End of Policy.
“I wan’t going to comment but after reading several emails I have to respond,” Ellington wrote to his colleagues. “To draft punitive policies regarding interns in my opinion is wrong. None of the interns did anything wrong, the bad actors in this situation were middle aged men that could not contain their emotional desires.”
A House task force is expected to unveil a new workplace policy governing House members conduct, office relationships, sexual harassment reporting, and more in the coming weeks. Rep. Kevin Engler, who is leading the task force, told reporters he’d like to have something ready to show by the veto session on Sept 16, but was not certain it would be ready by then.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @CMReischman