Sen. Jack Latvala has learned the name of the woman formally accusing him of sexual harassment, but he and his legal team agreed to respect her anonymity after striking a deal with investigators.
The special master investigating the Senate Rules Committee complaint handed a copy to the Clearwater Republican’s attorneys late last week in exchange for keeping the accuser’s name and her claims confidential as the probe moves forward.
“We know who the complainant is and we are hopeful the special master won’t find probable cause,” said Steve Andrews, one of Latvala’s attorneys.
Under Senate rules, when a filing complaint, a special master is hired to conduct an investigation, sift through evidence and determine whether a punishment is appropriate.
The rules complaint is only one element of the Latvala investigation.
Senate President Joe Negron first opened an independent investigation into the harassment claims following a POLITICO Florida report. Tampa-based attorney Gail Holtzman is leading that portion, and Negron has also retained attorneys from the GrayRobinson law firm to represent his chamber.
The woman, only identified as a Senate staff member, created a separate investigation when she filed a rules complaint, which is presided over by a special master, retired 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Ronald V. Swanson.
The separate track has given Andrews some concern.
“We are concerned that there is a double jeopardy with two separate independent investigations going on,” Andrews said.
John “Mac” Stipanovich, a lobbyist who has worked in Tallahassee for more than 30 years, said he does not recall seeing a case such as the one Latvala faces.
And while the attorneys of both Latvala and his accuser have agreed to the Senate’s confidentiality terms, he added that in Tallahassee — a “petri dish for rumors” — not much can remain secret.
“Tallahassee is a very small town, and in this particular case ‘anonymous’ and ‘unpublished’ does not mean it is unknown,” said Stipanovich, with the Tallahassee office of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.