On Thursday, POLITICO delved into a pending lawsuit against the state of Florida by Lucille Alford, a 64-year-old former state disability examiner who claims she was sexually harassed in 2014 — and Gov. Rick Scott did nothing about it.
Alford, who filed her suit in April of last year, alleges that her boss, Charles Fete, held her in a “bear hug” in his office and whispered innuendo in her ear as she struggled to free herself. She reported the incident to another supervisor, local law enforcement, the Florida Commission on Human Relations, and Scott’s office, and the matter was not pursued because she did not offer eyewitnesses to the incident. The suit is scheduled to be heard in February in Leon County court.
This week, Alford spoke out publicly about the incident for the first time, speaking with POLITICO reporters. “I tried to get the governor’s attention,” she said. “I felt like I was out there on a limb by myself and people were not really hearing me. I’m still traumatized.”
Scott’s administration denies the case was improperly handled. But it would not be out of character for him to turn a blind eye to abuse of women. Following the sexual assault testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, Scott joined the GOP pile-on defending Kavanaugh, saying that “his character has been smeared” and that “both these people have been used and abused as pawns in partisan Washington political theater.”
Over the past two years, a wave of politicians in both parties has been held to account for sexual misbehavior. But while Democrats have dutifully purged their offenders from office, Republicans have increasingly been closing ranks in defense of their own, and not just on Kavanaugh. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) faces multiple accusations of ignoring sexual abuse of students while he coached at Ohio State University, but not only are none of his GOP colleagues calling for his resignation, he is now a serious contender to take over as Speaker of the House if Republicans keep the chamber.
Scott, who is termed out of the governor’s mansion, is currently running for Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Florida’s Senate race is one of the closest in the nation, and one of the most expensive — Scott, who would be the richest member of Congress if elected, has poured tens of millions of dollars of his own money into the campaign.