Cliff Hite: What did Senate Leadership Know and When?

By Cyndy Rees


3rd Rail Politics has sent a Public Records Request to the Ohio Senate seeking all Documents of former Senator Cliff Hite, former Senate President Keith Faber, Senate President Larry Obhof, Senators Bob Peterson, Randy Gardner and Gayle Manning as well as staff persons Jason Mauk, John McClelland and John Fortney that discuss the online hook-up site Ashley Madison.


This request has been made as a follow-up to information received by 3rd Rail related to sexual misconduct by an Ohio Senator.


On Monday, 3rd Rail broke the story of Senator Cliff Hite's sudden resignation.  At the time, Hite told 3rd Rail he was leaving for family health reasons.  Our sources informed us that Hite's resignation was related to a sexual harassment charge by a government staffer.


Since our initial publication, Hite stated he was behaving inappropriately with a female state employee. Hite claims that after they met he “sometimes asked her for hugs and talked with her in a way that was not appropriate  for a married man, father, and grandfather.”


Hite and his wife posted this statement on Twitter:


According to the Columbus Dispatch, Senate President Obhof said he met with Hite last week within a few hours of hearing about the allegations. He declined to say how he was informed of the complaint.


“We dealt with it in a very efficient manner, very quickly,” Obhof said. “I think he did the right thing by accepting responsibility by apologizing for his actions. He recognizes that some of the behavior was not appropriate.”


Obhof suggested there is still a process ongoing regarding the complaint, but he declined to elaborate. The young woman who filed it does not work for the Senate, but reportedly worked with Hite in a Statehouse-related capacity.


“The message should be pretty clear that any inappropriate activity in the Senate isn’t tolerated,” Obhof said, adding that he is planning to start doing sexual harassment training for members at the start-of-the-session caucus retreat every two years. “In the short term, we plan to have something like that for members and staff of both parties in the near future.”


Did Senate leadership respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by Senator Hite in a timely manner? Lingering questions remain as to when Senate leadership became aware of Hite's behavior and how they responded to these issues.


This story is developing.  Please check back with 3rd Rail for more information as it becomes available.