The Senate has retained the Jackson Lewis law firm for its investigation into sexual harassment and groping allegations against Sen. Jack Latvala, a top Republican in the chamber.
Tampa-based attorney Gail Holtzman will be the lead attorney in the investigation, and Senate President Joe Negron said individuals who want to come forward with complaints against the powerful senator may contact her starting tomorrow.
“The Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, sexual assault, or misconduct of any kind,” Negron said. “I encourage anyone with any information regarding the anonymous allegations to contact Ms. Holtzman.”
Negron said sexual harassment victims’ information will be confidential.
The Senate coordinated with the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) to find independent law firms that could handle the case.
This came after Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts, who was initially tapped to lead the investigation, recused herself from the probe citing a potential conflict of interest. Roberts once worked as the staff director for a Senate committee Latvala chaired.
The OLS gave Negron a list of five potential law firms on Wednesday so that he could review them and see if there were any potential conflicts of interest raised.
One of the firms—Allen, Norton & Blue—was flagged as a “perceived conflict” by Negron because it served as the chief negotiator for the state when doing collective bargaining.
As Latvala is under investigation he has retained Tallahassee-based attorney Steve Andrews, who has represented embattled senators in the past.
Latvala has denied all allegations against him and in a surprising move, reported by Florida Politics Thursday, he took a lie-detector test where he addressed three sexual harassment allegations raised by a POLITICO Florida news report last week.
According to the polygraph test, Latvala was “truthful.”
It remains unclear if any formal complaints have been filed against Latvala since the report came out, but Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto said Thursday a complaint has been filed to the Rules Committee. She declined to name who it was against because of privacy rules.