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Ethics Panel Dismisses Sex Harassment Case Against Lieutenant Governor Hopeful

The state Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against Republican state Sen. David Shafer.
The state Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against Republican state Sen. David Shafer.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The state Senate Ethics Committee made public Friday it has dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against Republican state Sen. David Shafer, a top candidate for lieutenant governor.

In a letter to Shafer, Sen. Dean Burke, the chair of the Ethics Committee, wrote the panel “found that there is a lack of credible evidence” to support the allegation.

In March, a long-time lobbyist filed an official complaint in the legislature alleging Shafer demanded sexual favors for helping her get a bill passed in 2011.

She alleged Shafer requested she meet him at the Ritz Hotel and said: “You don’t have to have sex with me. We can just spoon naked. I just want to see you naked.”

Shafer has denied the allegations.

“I think the political motive has been obvious from the beginning” he said at a press conference Friday. “The allegations are false and we have demonstrated through the evidence that we’ve submitted that they are completely false.”

Lawyers for the alleged victim did not respond to phone calls or emails by deadline.

An outside attorney, Penn Payne, was hired by the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the complaint.

In a report, she wrote that the evidence leaned in Shafer’s favor.

“My ultimate conclusions are that it is more likely that Sen. Shafer did not make sexually harassing comments and demands…than it is likely that he did,” Payne wrote, and that it is more likely that the alleged victim “has fabricated her allegations of sexually harassing conduct than it is likely that she is telling the truth.”

But Payne wrote if the alleged victim is not telling the truth, “then I do not see what she gains by bringing the complaint.”

The state Senate Ethics Committee is made of 12 members, including nine Republicans and three Democrats.

The meeting Thursday in which they voted to dismiss the complaint against Shafer, was not open to the public.