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Kentucky governor draws praise after calling for resignation of lawmakers who settled sexual harassment lawsuits

(Reuters/John Sommers II)Matt Bevin (R-KY) speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky in Louisville, Kentucky, April 5, 2014.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has drawn praise from the evangelical community after he called for the immediate resignation of lawmakers and other government employees who have settled sexual harassment lawsuits.

In a news conference on Nov. 4, Bevin said that the alleged sexual misconduct of some individuals in state government was "reprehensible," noting that the allegations had "not been denied" while "increasingly becoming corroborated by additional voices."

"Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately," the governor said, without naming anyone.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. commended Bevin for his "moral clarity and candor" on the issue.

Mohler said that Bevin "stands out not only in the state of Kentucky but, frankly, in the entire national conversation for the fact that it is so laser-like."

The Southern Baptist leader noted that the Kentucky governor did not say that all individuals who were accused of sexual misconduct should resign, but implied that morally upright people should "invite ... investigation" while proclaiming their innocence.

According to WDRB, House Republicans were supposed to discuss the pension bill in Frankfort on Friday, but they spent almost three hours at a closed-door meeting discussing sexual misconduct allegations instead.

GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who has allegedly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, had initially criticized Bevin's remarks but resigned from his post the next day. He admitted the settlement as well as "inappropriate text messages," but denied that he had committed sexual harassment.

Hoover said that he would keep his seat in the legislature, but his family had said that he had been admitted to a hospital with a heart-related issue while asking for privacy.

Baptist Press reported that State Rep. Brian Linder, who admitted that he had signed a sexual harassment settlement agreement, was also considering resignation.

The lawmaker had apologized for his "actions that have led to this grief and embarrassment" and was temporarily relieved of his co-chairmanship of Kentucky's Pension Oversight Board pending an internal investigation of the sexual harassment claim.

Two other Kentucky lawmakers and one legislative staff member are also said to have settled sexual harassment claims, and the state's House Republicans have hired a law firm to conduct an investigation on the claims.

Other politicians have issued statements echoing Bevin's stance that sexual harassment by elected officials or state employees will not be tolerated.

"The House Democratic Caucus is against workplace harassment in any shape or form," said House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins in a statement on Saturday.

"Given the allegations that have been publicized today and in the recent past, it is necessary that an independent, objective and full investigation be done. Those individuals who have been proven to have engaged in harassing conduct or anything else improper should do the right thing and resign from their positions," the lawmaker added.

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