Fred Hubbell, who is running to be governor and the titular head of the Democratic Party wants his former rival, state Sen. Nate Boulton, to resign his Senate seat.
Boulton, who suspended his campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in May after three women — all lawyers and two of them law school classmates of his — said he had inappropriately accosted them, said Monday he plans to serve the remainder of his four-year Senate term.
Hubbell issued a statement Tuesday that called for holding Boulton “accountable” but did not mention resignation.
“As I have said before, elected leaders are role models,” Hubbell said. “Therefore, I support Senate leadership in ensuring that, as an elected leader, Sen. Boulton is appropriately held accountable for his actions.”
Later, his campaign spokeswoman said that by supporting Senate leadership Hubbell meant Boulton should resign.
Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, in May called for Boulton to resign. Most female members of the Senate, including Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, Hubbell’s choice for lieutenant governor, agreed.
“I support Sen. Petersen’s decision to request a resignation from Sen. Boulton, or submit to a full, independent investigation,” Hart said in May.
At the time the allegations became public, Hubbell said everyone, especially women, deserves to be treated with respect, “and anything less will not be tolerated.” And later, Hubbell said, “There is no room for sexual assault or sexual harassment in our state, period.”
In announcing that he will serve the remaining two years of his term, Boulton apologized for his actions, adding “I remember these situations differently.”
Boulton said binge drinking was a problem in his past and that because of excessive drinking he may have “misread appropriate social boundaries.”
Hubbell said he’s encouraged that Boulton is “getting the treatment he needs” and addressing his past behavior.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign had no comment.
Sexual harassment in state government has been an ongoing issue since former Senate Republican caucus communications director Kirsten Anderson won a $1.75 million settlement last year, saying she was fired only hours after complaining of a toxic work environment.
Then in March, in the midst of this year’s legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, abruptly resigned after a video captured him and a lobbyist kissing in a Des Moines tavern.
And only weeks later, Reynolds fired Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison after she said credible allegations of sexual harassment were made against him.
State-ordered investigations into his roughly six-year tenure there are expected to cost more than $100,000.
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