COLUMBUS — The disciplinary action of State Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, remains up in the air, but Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said that some action will be done after Huffman’s participation as emcee at a farewell party, where he made sexual remarks.
“I think that we’ve sent a pretty loud and clear message — respect the staff and respect the members. Inappropriate behavior won’t be tolerated,” Obhof said.
As for Huffman’s disciplinary action: “We’re still considering that,” Obhof said.
Senate and House leaders have said that there are ongoing discussions among state leadership to figure out exactly what will be expected of Huffman. But other groups are making it clear that they want the state legislators to step down to change, what they say, is a culture of discrimination toward women.
“We’re not impressed to see that Sen. Matt Huffman and Rep. Bill Seitz apologized only after they were caught and called out for their appalling comments,” Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Kathy DiCristofaro said. “There must be real consequences for legislators who are creating a culture that breeds disrespect amongst their colleagues and harassment toward Statehouse workers.”
State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, also fell into hot water for a number of similar remarks at the same farewell party. Both Seitz and Huffman have apologized after the remarks were made public by a political blog.
“I understand why people at the event were offended, and I apologize. I am truly sorry,” Huffman said.
“I can tell you women in general are not just going to sit by no matter what we do and accept that,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton. “They are very angry. They expect something to be done about that. … On the heels of what we’ve been trying to do to make our members aware and understand what policy is — on how people behave and conduct ourselves — it strikes us as a little bit odd after we’ve just done that, that this event would occur.”
“This is something we can’t just slide under the rug. This is something we can’t just say ‘don’t do that again’ and walk away, because its creating a culture day-in and day-out,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.
“In all circumstances,” said House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, “we try to address these things as serious as possible and make sure we nip it in the bud as soon as possible.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.