After governor's aid resigns, State senator calls for inquiry over harassment allegations
BATON ROUGE – A state senator called for an investigation following the abrupt resignation of a high-ranking governor's office administrator last week.
First reported by LaPolitics and locally by WBRZ, Johnny Anderson resigned as deputy chief of staff from the governor's office just before Thanksgiving. Anderson had been accused of sexual harassment and while denying the allegations, Anderson said he wanted to separate the governor from the situation thus deciding to resign.
The governor's office in a statement said there is a zero tolerance policy on the matter.
But, State Sen. Sharon Hewitt of the New Orleans area called for an in-depth inquiry.
Hewitt (R- Chalmette) said she is most concerned about the latest allegations since Anderson had previously faced allegations when he worked for another administration in 2007.
“Louisiana citizens deserve to know how someone with a history of sexual harassment allegations managed get a high paying job on the governor’s executive staff,” Sen. Hewitt said in a statement released Wednesday.
A full investigation into this situation will tell us whether it was a failure of our state policies or of our politicians, who put women in harm’s way again. If it was a failure of our policies, then the solution will be clear. If it was the result of a politician rewarding a politico, despite their background, then the voters deserve to know.”
Anderson was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2007 situation.
Hewitt has called for a performance audit from state auditors, including a review of the state's policies and practices relative to examining a job applicant's background along with statistics from the Office of Risk Management and/or Civil Service on the number of sexual harassment claims and any settlements paid out over the last five years.
Sen. Hewitt is also calling for an evaluation of Louisiana’s sexual harassment policies and comparisons to related policies in other states, as well as recommendations for assisting the state in strengthening its policies, procedures and laws pertaining to sexual harassment.
“All people have the right to work in a safe environment, without unwanted sexual advances or pressure to trade sexual favors in exchange for job security or promotions,” she said.
The governor's office responded to Senator Hewitt's request with the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“Sexual harassment in state government will not be tolerated. Upon learning of these recent allegations, Gov. Edwards immediately launched an investigation that is currently underway. Previous investigations regarding sexual harassment claims against a former employee did not conclude any wrongdoing. However, this administration takes this matter seriously, which is why the governor acted so quickly. The investigation that is currently underway will review the state’s policies regarding sexual harassment, not just within the executive branch, and we will work with Sen. Hewitt and the entire legislature to promote a safe, positive work environment for all state employees.”
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