Joe Negron Archives - Page 6 of 46 - Florida Politics

Janet Cruz ‘horrified’ reading allegations of sexual harassment in capital

Janet Cruz has no idea whether sensational sexual harassment charges leveled over the weekend against state Sen. Jack Latvala are true.

But the House Democratic Leader from Tampa says some of the passages she read in the POLITICO Florida story made her skin crawl.

“I was heartbroken when that girl just sat there and cried and then when (former legislator, now Congressman) Matt Gaetz said he saw a young woman trapped in a booth that he was using his body to keep her in the booth?” Cruz said Monday afternoon. “I mean that just horrified me. It made me sick to my stomach. It was really painful to read.”

Now with a Senate investigation set to begin on the sexual harassment allegations, Latvala asked Senate President Joe Negron Monday if he could be relieved of his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. Negron immediately granted the request.

That’s a good thing, Cruz says.

“I’ve known Jack Latvala for a long time, and he’s never personally been disrespectful to me,” she said about her Pinellas County colleague. “But I think that until the allegations are proven or disproven that he probably made a good decision to sit back and let the investigation clear his name if he believes that will be the case.”

Negron is seeking an independent investigator to handle the investigation.

Cruz says nothing stuns her when it comes to this issue in the Capitol, relating a moment she once observed on the House floor.

“I watched a member profess his love and talk about getting married to a woman who was sitting in the family section who was his former aide, and who had been married,” she says. “So where was the outrage then?”

Last week, before reports about Latvala but after Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth resigned after revelations of an extramarital affair, Cruz issued a lengthy statement, saying “my door is always open” to any woman who had been previously too intimidated to discuss any issues of sexual harassment.

“My statement was to every woman,” she says, “especially these young women who are lobbyists or are working in subordinate positions, it’s important for them to know that I’m a no-nonsense legislator and that they have a safe place in coming to me.”

“I will defend them, and I will fight for them, and I will make sure that justice is served,” Cruz added. “I’m really sad to see what’s happening in Tallahassee … The match was lit, and now we have a bonfire.”

Jack Latvala out as Senate Appropriations chair, Rob Bradley in

Sen. Jack Latvala on Monday asked to be relieved of his chairmanship of the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, a request that Senate President Joe Negron quickly obliged.

Until further notice, Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley is Senate budget chief. Bradley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I understand that you are in the process of hiring an independent, third party to conduct an investigation regarding the anonymous allegations made against me in a recent news article,” Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, wrote in a memo to Negron that was released by the Senate.

On Friday, POLITICO Florida reported that Latvala had sexually harassed six women who work in the legislative process. He quickly followed with a Friday night statement that he “unequivocally den(ied) the allegations.”

Still, the news dealt an uppercut to the longtime senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran piling on by calling for Latvala’s resignation.

Negron has ordered an investigation into Latvala, asking “anyone with information regarding today’s report to confidentially come forward to the General Counsel’s Office.”

Latvala, who turned 66 on Friday, said it was “hard to confront anonymous accusers … and I find it interesting that these anonymous complaints have only come forward after I began my campaign for governor.”

In Monday’s missive to Negron, he “request(ed) that you permit me to temporarily take a leave of absence from my role as Chair of the Committee on Appropriations until this matter is resolved … I look forward to defending myself against these untruthful allegations and believe I will be fully exonerated.”

You got it, Negron said.

“While the independent, third-party investigation regarding Senator Latvala is pending, I believe it is in the best interest of the Senate for another Senator to temporarily serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations,” Negron said in his own memo to senators.

“Senator Latvala’s other responsibilities in the Senate will remain unchanged,” Negron said. “Accordingly, effective immediately, I am making the following Committee Chair Assignments: Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Rob Bradley; Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development: Sen. Wilton Simpson.”

Before “making these decisions, I consulted with President Pro Tempore (Anitere) Flores,” he wrote. “She has determined that she can best serve the Senate by remaining Chair of the Committee on Banking and Insurance, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and Vice Chair of the Committee on Appropriations.”

Rick Scott calls Jack Latvala sexual allegations ‘disgusting’

Gov. Rick Scott addressed the sexual allegations against Sen. Jack Latvala for the first time on Monday and said they were “disgusting” and that if anybody engages in such behavior they should “get out of office.”

“I can’t imagine this, I can’t believe (this),” Scott told reporters in Fort Myers. “Hopefully this is not happening. I expect that everyone is being treated with respect and that no one is mistreated.”

The sexual harassment claims against Latvala were first reported on Friday by POLITICO Florida. By Monday morning, Latvala had lost his seat as Senate budget chief.

The allegations have been condemned by members in both the House and Senate in both parties, and Senate President Joe Negron is looking for an independent party to investigate the claims made by the six unnamed women. Negron said the allegations that Latvala harassed and groped the women were “atrocious and horrendous.”

“We all need to understand the facts,” Scott said. “We need to know exactly what happened. If anybody has done anything wrong, we need to hold them accountable.”

Latvala has denied the accusers’ accounts and has threatened to sue POLITICO Florida for publishing the report. Following the report, at least five women, who have worked with Latvala closely over the years, have come to his defense in what some say appears to be a coordinated campaign to clear his name.

Jack Latvala allies come to his defense after sexual harassment claims

After six women anonymously accused Sen. Jack Latvala of sexually harassing and groping them, at least five women who have worked closely with the powerful senator have come to his defense.

The allegations against Latvala, a Republican candidate for governor who turned 66 Friday, range from him grabbing a female lobbyist’s buttocks to making unsolicited comments about breasts, according to a POLITICO Florida report Friday.

Latvala came out swinging in what appears to some as a coordinated campaign to clear his name following the news report. That included a lawsuit threat — though he has yet to file one — and requests for female lobbyists and staffers in his orbit to come to his defense.

The women Florida Politics talked to said they were not among them, but they have worked with him closely in The Process.

Following criticism from members in both parties in the House and Senate, these women continued to praise the Senate budget chief’s ethics. Two of them acknowledged that they too have experienced sexual harassment at the Capitol by other elected officials, but insisted they never saw Latvala act inappropriately.

“If you are a female elected official then you should have an expectation that people will say and do things to you in a sexual nature with the intention of being offending,” former Sen. Ronda Storms, a Republican, said.

“That hasn’t been my experience with (Latvala), but it has been my experience with other people, with another male senator.”

Storms declined to name her sexual harasser because she said the harassment stopped when she addressed him directly. She said he is still in office, “but not in the Senate.”

The allegations against Latvala come after Senate Democratic Leader-designate Jeff Clemens, a close ally of his, resigned after he admitted to an affair with a lobbyist. Since then, rumors have swirled at the Capitol, painting a picture of women being exploited and victimized in the policymaking process.

One GOP female lobbyist, according to the POLITICO report, said she would get a “cold shoulder” from Latvala if he didn’t get enough attention. Latvala has denied the sexual harassment allegations.

Missy Timmins, a lobbyist who worked as Latvala’s chief legislative aide during his early years in the Senate, told Florida Politics she was worried male legislators might be hesitant to work with female lobbyists in the wake of the claims made against Latvala.

Timmins added she never witnessed inappropriate behavior from Latvala, but that he once “turned red face” when another legislator told her she “had the nicest legs in the Senate.” She too declined to name that lawmaker.

“I can assure you as his staffer he got offended when people said something inappropriate to me,” Timmins said.

Jacqueline Elise D’Heere, who worked with Latvala in 2006, took another approach when defending Latvala. In a Facebook post she aggressively discredited the unnamed women who accused him.

“There is no more accurate way to describe (the accusers’) behavior than reprehensible,” wrote D’Heere.

“Failure to disclose their names leads me to believe they are the very idiots who clunk around the Capitol’s marble floors in short skirts and giant stilettos looking for the first elected who will destroy their families for some physical attention.”

Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters, a Pinellas County ally of Latvala, also was quick to discount the accounts of the six women who say the senator sexually harassed them.

“If it’s anonymous, it’s not legitimate,” Peters, of Treasure Island, said in a Facebook post. “Anyone can make up stories if that person is protected under secrecy.”

The unnamed women told POLITICO Florida they did not “want to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, getting a bad reputation in the male-dominated Capitol or running afoul of an influential politician who can kill their clients’ issues.”

Jennifer Wilson, a former staffer for Latvala, told Florida Politics the news came as a surprise to her. She said she worked many late nights with Latvala — sometimes alone with him in his office — and that he never acted inappropriately with her.

“I’m trying to pick my words because I know there have been women harassed in this process, but I don’t know that it has happened with Jack,” Wilson said. “It surprised me so much and based on the little information we have, it just looks very fishy.”

Senate President Joe Negron has opened an investigation into the allegations against Latvala, which he called “disgusting.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’Lakes Republican who is expected to announce a run for governor after the 2018 legislative session, has since called for his resignation.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, the top Democrat on the House budget committee, also has asked Negron to remove Latvala from his appropriations chairmanship. The 2018 Legislative Session starts Jan. 8.

Though the Republican-controlled Senate has been mostly mute, Sen. Jeff Brandes did express concern over the “very serious” accusations, and said the Senate should seek an impartial special counsel to investigate the allegations.

It now will have to: Negron initially tapped Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts to lead the investigation, but she has since recused herself from the case, citing a potential conflict of interest based on her longtime work association with Latvala.

Senate Counsel to recuse from Jack Latvala investigation, calls for 3rd party

General Counsel Dawn Roberts

Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts is recusing herself from the sexual harassment investigation of budget chief Jack Latvala, citing years of a professional relationship with the Clearwater Republican

Senate President Joe Negron ordered an investigation Friday evening into allegations published by POLITICO Florida that Latvala sexually harassed or groped six unnamed women staffers and Senate office visitors.

“The Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, sexual assault, or misconduct of any kind and takes this issue with the utmost seriousness,” Negron wrote. “Any allegation will be immediately and fully investigated.”

“As General Counsel to the Senate, you put me in charge of that investigation,” Roberts said in a letter Saturday. “I immediately began my assessment as to how the investigation should proceed.”

Roberts decided her professional relationship with Latvala, most recently as Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections during the term of then-Senate President Don Gaetz – a committee where Latvala served as chair — could raise questions of objectivity of any investigation.

“I have always ascribed to the belief that no one person is more important than the institution itself,” she added. “Therefore, effective immediately, I am recusing myself from the investigation.”

Roberts then recommended a third-party investigation into the allegations, citing “Joint Policy 2.2316 of the Joint Policies of the Presiding Officers” which allows the human resources director of the Office of Legislative Services to work with an “independent, professional service provider” on an inquiry.

Latvala issued a statement Friday night saying he “unequivocally” denies the allegations and that he finds it “interesting that these anonymous complaints have only come forward after I began my campaign for governor.”

“I am in consultation with my attorney and will take all legal actions necessary to clear my name,” Latvala said in the statement. “I also welcome a complete review of these allegations by the Senate. If my political opponents want a fight, then it’s a fight they will get.”

While Negron ordered the probe Friday evening, he did not immediately strip Latvala of his post as the chairman of the budget committee.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report, republished with permission.

Advice for Jack Latvala

Dear Senator Latvala:

Undoubtedly if I could not sleep last night, I am sure you could not either.

What kept turning over in my head is the possibility that I may have witnessed your last speech as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee/candidate for Governor. Your remarks to the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists were 100 percent pure Latvala, full of boldness, bluster, honesty, and humor.

It makes me sad to think that I may not see that again.

It’s now clear that you will fight the allegations reported by POLITICO Florida that six women say you had either touched them inappropriately or made demeaning comments about their bodies.

Without judging the merits of those allegations, here is some advice as you proceed forward.

This advice is based, in part, on my own experience of being falsely accused of something. That is not to say you are or are not being falsely accused. But, as you may remember, in 2013, the Tampa Bay Times reported on accusations made against me. It turned out that those charges were without merit.

After the Times published its story, I responded a lot like you did on Friday (your birthday, to boot). Full of fury and righteous indignation. Unfortunately, the more I responded, the worse it appeared to the outside world. It was like a Chinese finger puzzle. The harder you try to get out of it, the harder it becomes to escape. Fortunately, like you, I have a wife smarter than me, one who was smart enough to make us decamp to Disney World, turn off my cellphone, and let the investigation proceed without me doing anything to make the situation worse.

That incident will always be fresh in my mind (as our friend, Rick Baker, told me after all was settled: the Times wanted to see me put in jail, it was that determined to take me out; the same can be said of POLITICO and you). So let me offer these recommendations.

1. Shut up. No matter what else is reported … no matter how much you want to respond … don’t say another damn word! At least not for 48 hours. 72 hours of silence would be even better. The longer you go without saying anything, the less fuel there will be for the fire.

The truth is your instincts for how to respond are horrible, if not downright incriminating. You are your own worst enemy. This line — “If my political opponents want a fight, then it’s a fight they will get it” — is, without a doubt, the worst thing you can say right now.

To be brutally honest, you do not have enough of the right people in your orbit to construct the appropriate public relations response. Just go dark for the time being. It’s the last thing the political world expects from you right now.

2. Tell Chris to stay quiet. I love your son and it’s commendable how quickly he rises to your defense, but anything he posts to social media just exacerbates the situation.

3. For the time being, stop asking female lobbyists and staffers to come to your defense. Although it’s a good sign that several powerful women, Rep. Kathleen Peters and lobbyist Missy Timmins, are speaking out on your behalf, there are other neutral parties who see the effort to recruit other women to your side as EXACTLY the kind of behavior which landed you in this position in the first place.

What if they don’t want to speak out either way? Will they be “remembered” for their disloyalty? The request that you stop doing this was echoed by a managing director of one of the top ten lobbying firms, so please take it seriously.

4. Ask Joe Negron to sack Dawn Roberts. The moment Negron ordered the Senate general counsel to investigate this situation, your critics and critics of the Senate pointed out that Roberts is your friend and previously served under you as a staff director. It doesn’t pass the smell test that she oversee this investigation (something Negron should have known better about, but that’s for another blog post).

If you believe you are innocent, you will immediately ask Negron to create an independent, third-party investigation that is headed by some sort of white knight former judge with zero ties to the Florida Senate.

5. Stop blaming others, including Richard Corcoran, for this predicament. As Henry Kissinger noted, even a paranoid has some real enemies. You have many enemies, Speaker Corcoran among them. But the idea that he hired a private investigator MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO to gather dirt on you does not make sense. Remember, you were still fighting to be Senate President, which also rules out Adam Putnam‘s supporters or anyone else afraid of you becoming Governor.

The bottom line is you’ll probably never really know who is at the center of all of your troubles. Except the person most responsible for this is looking right back at you in the mirror. That does not mean you are guilty of sexual harassment, but even you will admit you are not perfect.

6. Do not threaten to burn the house down. Let’s be real: most people don’t care what happens to you, they care what happens to them. Most neutral parties will remain that way so long as you are not perceived to be a threat to the entire institution.

But there are more than just whispers which suggest that if you go down, you will not go down quietly. I have zero doubt that you know where more bodies are buried than any single person in Florida politics. But you will lose allies quickly if you suggest that you’ll lead others to said bodies if you go down. This entire situation will accelerate at a pace beyond anyone’s control if you become a kamikaze.

That’s all I have for right now. Undoubtedly you are receiving more advice than even you, with your once-in-a-generation brain, can process. In fact, if I have any advice worth taking it’s that you determine the best way to process all of the incoming advice you are being bombarded with today. Your friends and allies are gonna wanna know they are being listened to, even if their advice is half-baked.

Fortunately for you, you have many, many friends who are still standing with you.

 

Jack Latvala denies sexual harassment, says he’ll ‘clear my name’

Hours after POLITICO Florida reported that powerful state Sen. Jack Latvala had sexually harassed six women who work in the legislative process, the Clearwater Republican said in a Friday night statement that he “unequivocally den(ied) the allegations.”

But the news dealt a stunning blow to the powerful Appropriations Committee chairman and Republican gubernatorial candidate, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran also calling for Latvala’s resignation.

Moreover, Senate President Joe Negron ordered an investigation into Latvala, asking “anyone with information regarding today’s report to confidentially come forward to the General Counsel’s Office.”

In his statement, Latvala said it was “hard to confront anonymous accusers, and even more difficult when the news is manufactured by a fake news entity like POLITICO, who gave me less than a half hour to respond to this smear campaign.”

“And I find it interesting that these anonymous complaints have only come forward after I began my campaign for governor,” the 66-year-old Clearwater Republican added.

“I am in consultation with my attorney and will take all legal actions necessary to clear my name,” Latvala said. “I also welcome a complete review of these allegations by the Senate. If my political opponents want a fight, then it’s a fight they will get.”

Negron earlier had called the allegations that Latvala sexually harassed and groped the women “atrocious and horrendous.” He ordered the investigation, to be led by Senate general counsel Dawn Roberts.

“As Senate President, my first priority is the safety of our staff and visitors,” Negron said in a statement.

According to the POLITICO report, the women “described their physical interactions with Latvala as anything but welcomed. They said they felt degraded and demeaned when he touched their buttocks or other private areas of their bodies, or when he commented on their weight and their breast size.”

On Thursday, Latvala had strongly denied any ties to sexual misconduct after he spoke at the Associated Press’ legislative coverage planning session in the Capitol.

The website previously reported he’d been the subject of surveillance, including while he kissed a lobbyist in a parking lot after a dinner meeting in Tallahassee.

“I asked the (Senate’s) general counsel to find out whether I had any problems with this,” Latvala told a POLITICO Florida reporter. “And she wrote a memo to your boss — I didn’t know she was writing a memo — that said I never had any incidents like that.”

He added: “But that very day, you were on the phone trying to stir up one.”

The allegations against Latvala come a day after Negron defended a controversial sexual harassment policy change that some said would make it harder to report complaints when they occur.

Negron, a Stuart Republican, said in a news conference Thursday that he was not aware of any “formal or informal” sexual harassment complaints against members.

Though Negron has not said anything about relieving Latvala from his chairmanship, Corcoran—the Land O’ Lakes Republican expected to announce his own run for governor after the 2018 Legislative Session—was quick to call for him to step down from office.

“This behavior should never be tolerated. He should resign immediately,” Corcoran said in a statement. “The most dangerous threat to self government is morally corrupt leaders acting in their own selfish interests.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, said the allegations are “appalling and disgusting” and called on Negron to  at least remove Latvala from his role as budget chairman.

“Additionally, I call on Speaker Richard Corcoran to tell the Senate that the House will refuse to go into budget conference with Senator Latvala in that position,” said Moskowitz, the Democratic ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Joe Negron defends Senate sexual harassment policy, again

In the wake of a sex scandal that rattled the state Capitol last week involving Senator Jeff Clemens and his extramarital affair with a lobbyist, Senate President Joe Negron on Thursday defended the process in which sexual harassment complaints are reported in the Senate.

“I don’t think it would be fair to say that in the absence of complaints that must mean that there is or is not sexual harassment occurring in the building,” Negron said in a news conference. “I believe that the vast majority of legislators and staff handle themselves and conduct themselves appropriately.”

Clemens’ affair came to light thanks to a news report by POLITICO Florida.

While Negron reiterated there is “zero tolerance” for misconduct or sexual harassment in the Senate and that he has seen very “respectful treatment” among staff members, a recent policy change in the Senate came under fire. The policy adjustment sought to change how sexual harassment is reported in the chamber and some scrutinized it because it would have made it harder to file complaints.

Instead of going to human resources, complaints would have gone directly to Negron, which he said would have bolstered the “elevation of seriousness” of each complaint.

“The new policy in the administrative rules was actually an enhancement of earlier policy and may even streamline to say we take this with the utmost seriousness that there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment and that any complaint will be investigated,” Negron said.

The policy has been placed under review to make it stronger.

Negron reassured reporters there would be “dire consequences” if there were any founded complaints. So far, though, he is not aware of any “formal or informal complaints” in relation to sexual harassment in the Senate — other than those reported by the media

“The process works when any person who feels there has been misconduct, or a victim of sexual harassment, comes forward,” Negron said.

Scott wants $50M to speed up Lake O dike repairs

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that he will ask lawmakers to include $50 million to fast-track repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee in the 2018-19 state budget.

In a Monday press release Scott thanked President Donald Trump for his “commitment to accelerating critical repairs” to the dike but said Trump green-lighting a sped up repair schedule wasn’t enough on its own.

“While this partnership is game-changing, we cannot stop there,” Scott said. “These repairs are a priority and that’s why I’m proposing $50 million in state funding to help expedite the project.”

Scott announced the dike money to a Clewiston crowd including House Speaker Richard Corcoran Monday, and both Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron said they were on board with the plan.

“None of what we announced today would’ve been possible without the heavy lifting and tireless effort of Governor Scott,” Corcoran said. “The fruits of this investment will mean safety and security for the community surrounding the Lake, as well as averting potential environmental dangers. And I’m proud to stand with the governor today and will do all I can to help him hold Washington’s feet to the fire.”

Negron thanked Scott for his “leadership” on the issue and plugged his own signature proposal to expand water storage south of Lake O.

“I look forward to working with him again this session on these important issues to ensure we have an effective state and federal partnership that leads to the elimination of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee,” he said.

Legislators will consider the proposal when crafting the state budget during the 2018 Legislative Session, which will start in January.

Scott’s environmental budget, released last week, will also include $355 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million for land preservation fund Florida Forever as well as budget bumps for state springs, beaches and parks.

Lizbeth Benacquisto, Lauren Book issue statement on sexual misconduct

Two female state senators Monday issued a powerful joint statement on sexual misconduct in the Capitol, the same day Senate President Joe Negron agreed to reconsider his new hard-line harassment reporting policy.

Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican and Rules Committee chair, and Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat and chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, said such misconduct, “whether in action or in spoken word, has no place in our world and certainly not in our places of work nor in the halls of power.”

Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, resigned from elected office Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair with a South Florida lobbyist. Clemens was the chamber’s Democratic Leader-designate.

The news happened to come soon after light of multiple sexual harassment allegations leveled against film producer Harvey Weinstein, as reported by The New York Times.

His accusers include actors Rose McGowan, Annabella Sciorra, Asia Argento, Daryl Hannah and dozens of others, some going back to the 1970s.

Sciorra told The New Yorker that Weinstein “had violently raped her in the early (1990s), and, over the next several years, sexually harassed her repeatedly.” Weinstein, known as a “pioneering independent film executive,” stepped down from the namesake studio he helped found.

In their Monday statement, Benacquisto and Book said “many times, a known or perceived imbalance of power can be exploited. This is why it’s so difficult for many to speak up.

“This is why so many don’t report,” they said. “Victims are made to feel ashamed, afraid, and uncertain of how this may impact their careers. They are made to bear a piece of this burden and the weight of the misconduct somehow becomes the responsibility of the victim. That ends here. That ends today. 

“We are here to say that you are not to blame. If you have been hurt or exploited, let your voice be heard. Come forward. Make a report and get the help you deserve to heal and to be protected. It is crucial that you find your strength and use your voice. As long as we are here, you will be heard, and we will do all that we can to help.

“We are your allies because sadly we can both say #MeToo. We understand what it means to be victimized, demoralized, and silenced in the face of sexual assault. We stand with you because we all deserve to feel safe and to be safe. Be strong. Be brave.”

On Friday, Negron told Senate employees that, going forward, sexual harassment complaints should only be reported to their direct supervisor, Senate chief of staff Cheri Vancura or Negron himself. And all complaints ultimately had to go to Negron’s desk for review.

By Monday, he backtracked, saying employees could report sexual or other “workplace harassment” to anyone in their chain of command.

He said in a memo he wanted to make it “even more abundantly clear to employees that they can and should report sexual or workplace harassment to anyone they feel comfortable speaking with.”

Negron, a Stuart Republican, also again made clear his “zero tolerance” of sexual and workplace harassment against anyone who works for or “visits” the Senate.

Later Monday, Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, thanked Negron “for his listening ear on revisiting the sexual and workplace harassment policy issued this weekend.

“Making it clear that multiple places of sanctuary for reporting sexual and workplace harassment will continue to exist ensures neutral environments for reporting such offensive behavior, and encourages individuals to come forward,” she said in a statement.

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