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Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero. (Photo by Phil Sears)

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Awkward: Ray Rodrigues on sex and the Capitol at AP Day

As much as he perhaps would have liked to avoid it, House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues fielded a “sex” question at Thursday’s AP Day at the Capitol.

Rodrigues, filling in for previously scheduled House Speaker Richard Corcoran, was asked about Corcoran’s comment on a “wall of silence” in the Senate to news that Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. Clemens has since resigned from office.

But Rep. Cary Pigman, a Republican, reportedly began an affair in 2015 with his then-district secretary, to whom he is now married. He still is in the House.

Rodrigues, of Estero, was asked whether anyone in the House made an issue of that affair, or asked for an investigation.

“The first thing I would say is, those actions—if true and accurate—occurred before we initiated our rules changes,” he said, referring to added rules on sexual harassment.

“To my knowledge there was no complaint filed against Rep. Pigman,” he added. “Had there been, we would have initiated an investigation.”

Pressed further, Rodrigues was asked whether he personally thought lawmakers having any kind of consensual relationships with staff or lobbyists was “problematic.”

“I think we’ve made it clear sexual harassment won’t be tolerated,” he said.

But harassment isn’t “consensual,” he was told. What about consenting adults who, essentially, should know better?

“I don’t think elected officials should be using their position, whether it’s a staff member or a lobbyist, … and that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Period.”

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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