COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Lawmakers resign from their position in the House and Senate for many reasons; often their health or the health of a loved one is involved.
But every so often the reason is seedier, and that is partially the case with Cliff Hite who resigned from his Senate position Monday afternoon.
While Hite’s resignation letter states that he is looking forward to focusing on his personal health it does not address the other reason for leaving the statehouse; which he clarified in a personal statement to his Twitter account Wednesday morning.
According to Hite’s statement, 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 also claims the inappropriate physical contact stopped at just hugs.
Hite’s statement goes on to apologize for his actions and reads, “She deserves more respect than that and so does my wife.”
Hite also claims this was not the only reason for his resignation.
According to Hite his health has been deteriorating and he has been hospitalized for several days over the past year. Further, he says next month he is scheduled for two surgeries.
Senate President Larry Obhof addressed the situation after Wednesday’s Senate session.
Obhof says he learned of the situation between Hite and the female state employee last Wednesday and immediately spoke to him about it.
During that meeting, Obhof says he strongly suggested Hite resign for conduct unbecoming a Senator.
Obhof says they continued to have several meetings over the following days and eventually Hite did tender his resignation Monday afternoon.
According to Obhof this situation has resulted in a new policy for all members of the Republican Caucus that kicks in at the start of the next general assembly, where they will go through Sexual Harassment training at the retreat they take near the beginning of the session.
In the meantime, Obhof told us members and staff of both caucuses in the Senate will have similar training in the near future.
“I think that the message should be a pretty clear one; which is that any inappropriate activity in the senate isn’t tolerated,” said Obhof.
The seat vacated by Hite will be filled in the coming weeks. Obhof says the normal way they fill vacated seats will be used, and he expects the process to be completed within a month.