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Sen. Jack Latvala , R-Clearwater, watches debate on the medical marijuana implementation bill on the floor of the Senate Friday, June 9, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

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Gubernatorial candidates react to Jack Latvala’s alleged sex harassment

A recent POLITICO report detailing Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala‘s sexual harassment of six different women in the Capitol has garnered criticism from his opponents in the 2018 Governor’s race.

All major gubernatorial candidates have weighed in. There are four major Democrats and two dominant Republicans, including Latvala, on the gubernatorial ticket.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s Communications Director Geoff Burgan said: “The allegations against Senator Latvala are incredibly disturbing and must be investigated immediately.”

He added that, “at the minimum,” Latvala should be stripped of his seat on the Appropriations Committee and “if the allegations are proven true, he must resign without delay.

“It’s clear … the Legislature has a serious culture problem where men feel emboldened to harass, intimidate and demean women. It must end, and it must end now,” Burgan added.

Miami Beach Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine said: “I have zero tolerance for harassment in politics or the workplace.

In a similar fashion to the Gillum campaign’s statement, he added: “It’s clearly time to clean up Tallahassee.”

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham said Latvala’s conduct is “despicable” and commended the victims’ bravery in telling their stories.

Graham, too, criticized Tallahassee on a much larger scale.

“This is also a symptom of a state capital that’s drunk on power, playing by its own rules, and totally devoid of accountability — period.”

Chris King, a Winter Park developer of affordable and senior housing, concurred, declaring, “I am disgusted by the accounts of Senator Latvala’s alleged abuse of power. And I am in awe of the courage of the women who have come forward to tell their stories.

“It’s time to match their courage, look at ourselves and the culture we’ve created in Tallahassee, and change it. We must hold our elected officials accountable to a high standard of integrity and excellence again,” King added.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a major Republican primary opponent in the governor’s race, sympathized with the alleged victims and called for an investigation into the Legislature so that victims “may be heard without fear of reprisal.”

“No one should have to endure what we’ve heard reports of in the media,” Putnam said. “Sexual harassment has no place in the Capitol, or anywhere else.”

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