UPDATE (11/27): The ethics complaint filed against Democratic state Sen. Nate Boulton has been publicly released. You can view the complaint in full at the bottom of this article. In addition, the signed affidavit of Ash Bruxvoort is included.
DES MOINES — An ethics complaint has been filed against Democratic state Sen. Nate Boulton, who withdrew earlier this year from the gubernatorial campaign when accusations surfaced against him of inappropriate sexual conduct alleged to have occurred before he was an elected official.
Top members of the Senate Ethics Committee confirmed Monday that a complaint has been brought against Boulton, D-Des Moines, but they declined to comment further until the documents become public record.
The Des Moines Register reported that Sharon Wegner, a Des Moines lawyer, had filed the complaint Saturday outlining allegations she made last May to the newspaper that Boulton pursued her in a bar in 2015 and repeatedly grabbed her buttocks without her consent.
Wegner could not be reached by The Gazette for comment.
Last May, three women — all lawyers and two of them law school classmates of Boulton’s — told the Register that he had inappropriately accosted them years ago. None of the situations occurred in workplace settings.
Boulton, who did not respond to a request for comment Monday, dropped out of the governor’s race earlier this year while early voting was underway for the Democratic primary when the revelations became public. But he has said he plans to serve the remainder of his four-year Senate term through 2020.
Previously, he apologized and cited a history of binge drinking for causing problems in his life, though he noted that he had stopped drinking.
Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines, who previously along with most female senators had called on Boulton to resign, issued a statement Monday saying the complaint is now in the hands of the six-member, bipartisan Ethics Committee, which is charged with taking appropriate action with alleged violations of the ethics code.
“When I called on Sen. Boulton to resign six months ago, I did it because, like many Iowans, I believe that sexual harassment and misconduct should not be tolerated by anyone, anywhere. I also stated that I would support a full, independent investigation into allegations against Sen. Boulton,” she said.
Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone, chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, said he received and read the complaint that was filed against Boulton and planned to discuss with the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids, how the committee would proceed. He expected a meeting would be held before the 88th General Assembly convenes Jan. 14.
“I will verify that a complaint exists. I don’t think it’s appropriate to say any more than that right now,” Behn said in an interview.
“We’ve got to decide if it’s filed properly, which I assume it is. The paper trail is there,” Behn added. “We’ll just have the full committee get together and decide what to do with this thing.”
Horn, who did not seek re-election and is dividing his time between Iowa and Arizona, said he plans to talk with Behn and consult with Secretary of the Senate Charlie Smithson about the process of dealing with an ethics complaint.
He said one consideration is how the Senate proceeds on allegations made against someone when that person was not yet elected to a Senate seat.
Smithson provided the Senate procedures for dealing with an ethics complaint brought against a senator — which list expulsion as the most severe punishment — but added that “under Senate Ethics Rule 17 I am unable at this time to confirm or deny the existence of a complaint.”
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