Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to future Senate President Wilton Simpson, has publicly identified herself as one of the women accusing Sen. Jack Latvala of sexual harassment, according to a POLITICO Florida report.
In doing so, a potential conflict of interest is raised in the Senate investigation into the claims because Perrin Rogers is married to Brian Hughes, a consultant to Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto.
According to campaign finance records, Benacquisto paid Hughes’ company, Meteoric Media Strategies, $9,325 in media buy and consulting services in the 2016 election cycle.
Benacquisto is tasked with overseeing the complaint Perrin Rogers filed with her committee on Nov. 8. The contents of the charge are not public, but her attorney, Tiffany Cruz, has said it relates to sexual harassment.
Under Senate rules, if Benacquisto finds probable cause in the complaint, a special master would be involved and conduct their own investigation as to what the appropriate punishment would be for the accused.
Rogers told POLITICO Florida that Latvala groped her — something he has time and time again denied — and said she came out publicly because he was spreading lies about her and her husband.
Latvala, who knew Rogers was behind the complaint after a deal was struck with investigators in exchange for anonymity, falsely said Perrin Rogers was married to one of his political opponents. The Clearwater Republican is running for governor.
“The confidentiality that I was promised under Florida law has been violated,” Perrin Rogers said in a written statement.
Steve Andrews, one of Latvala’s Tallahassee-based attorneys, declined to comment on the allegations raised by Perrin Rogers. But in the past, he called for Benacquisto to recuse herself from any involvement in the investigation claiming she violate Senate privacy rules.
Senate President Joe Negron denied Andrews’ request.
Katie Betta, a spokesperson for Negron’s office, and Gail Holtzman who is the lead investigator in the Senate probe, both declined to comment on the potential conflict of interest citing the ongoing investigation.