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LeVota Resigns
July 25, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri state Sen. Paul LeVota submitted his resignation following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward interns, claims that the Democrat denied but that prompted party leaders to question his ability to serve.

LeVota, a 47-year-old from Independence, said he submitted a letter to the Senate’s top leader Friday, noting his resignation will be effective Aug. 23.

In a statement Friday, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon called LeVota’s planned departure “a necessary step” and “in the best interests of his constituents.”

Nixon said he has not yet received a resignation letter from LeVota, which is required for his resignation to take effect because the Legislature isn’t in session.

LeVota had consistently denied claims by former interns in his office of sexual harassment, inappropriate texting and invitations to come to his Jefferson City duplex. He’d also said he had no plans to resign. In a written statement issued Friday, he continued to deny the allegations but said “the media attention is a distraction to doing the people’s work.”

“As I stated before, I did not engage in any inappropriate activities with any intern in the Missouri Senate and a thorough investigation found no proof of misconduct,” LeVota said. “However, I will not put my family, myself, and the senate through the process of dealing with the veracity of false allegations and character assassination against me.”

The investigations and resignation add to a tumultuous year in Missouri politics. Former Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned on the same day session concluded after acknowledging that he had exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a 19-year-old Capitol intern.

Alissa Hembree, 21, who filed a sexual harassment complaint this year that led to investigations into LeVota’s conduct, told The Associated Press that the senator’s resignation is “a great step forward for the Missouri legislature and specifically women” who want to work in state politics.

Pressure on LeVota grew after the public release Wednesday of an internal Senate investigation into Hembree’s sexual harassment complaint; the report publicly laid out the intern’s allegations but drew no conclusions. Its release prompted another woman who worked as an intern in LeVota’s office in 2010 to come forward with claims that the senator sent her late-night texts that she described as “sexual in nature” and invited her to his duplex.

Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Nixon issued statements Thursday saying the allegations called into question LeVota’s ability to serve, and the Republican-led Senate launched a review of the accusations from the second intern, Taylor Hirth.

Hirth, who was 24 when she worked in LeVota’s office, called on him to resign.

Hours before LeVota announced plans to do so, Hembree released to The Associated Press a report on a University of Central Missouri investigation into the senator’s conduct. The report concluded that evidence backed up Hembree’s claims that LeVota sexually harassed her when he pressured her to spend the night at his Jefferson City duplex Jan. 26 after the two drank at a lobbyist event.

It also found Hembree was more credible in her account of what happened that night.

Hembree said LeVota asked her about her sexual experiences and made what she considered to be a request for sex. LeVota denied she ever went to his duplex. He didn’t respond to a request for comment about the report Friday.

It’s unclear what the university’s response will be. Spokesman Jeff Murphy declined to comment on the investigation of Hembree’s complaint but said: “We believe our students can benefit from experiences working with legislators, and we have a long history of successful and highly rewarding internships with members of the Senate and the House. We want to continue to make these opportunities possible.”

LeVota’s seat will remain vacant until Nixon calls a special election or until the end of LeVota’s term in 2017.

LeVota is married and has two daughters. He was elected to the Missouri House in 2002 and served as House minority floor leader from 2007 to 2010. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 and served on an ethics committee until he was replaced following the allegations against him.

Senate Report Says Intern Claims Sexual Harassment Claim against LeVota
July 22, 2015

(AP) – A Missouri Senate report released Wednesday details an intern’s claims that Democratic state Sen. Paul LeVota sexually harassed her, asked her explicitly for sex and retaliated when she refused.

The report says the intern claimed a pattern of “unwelcome messages and explicit requests for sexual activity” from LeVota.

LeVota denied that he engaged in any sexual harassment and said he would comment further later. The 47-year-old Democrat, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Independence, he did not yet have a copy of the report.

The investigation came after two University of Central Missouri students abruptly left an internship with LeVota partway through the last legislative session, which ended in May. That same day, former Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern.

While LeVota had previously said only that the Senate was investigating after his interns’ departures, a person familiar with the investigation told AP that the review focused on an intern’s sexual harassment complaint against the senator. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

LeVota was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee, among others. Voters had elected him in 2002 to the House, where he served for a decade and served as House minority leader from 2007 to 2010. He graduated from Central Missouri State University, now known as the University of Central Missouri, with a degree in speech communications and political science.

Groundbreaking for Skywalk Disaster Memorial
July 17, 2015

“This is a big step forward in making the impossible a reality” Brent Wright of Skywalk Memorial.

Missouri Senate Harrassment Report Expected Next Week
July 17, 2015

 (AP) – A Missouri Senate administration committee next week plans to release findings from an investigation into possible workplace harassment.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said Thursday that the committee intends to publicly release a report on Wednesday.

The Senate has been investigating why two University of Central Missouri students left early from an internship with Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota of Independence.

The Senate hired an attorney in response to a “workplace harassment complaint.”

Dempsey says both the attorney’s report and a report by the Senate administrator will be made publicly available. Dempsey also says he’ll be commenting on the investigation.

KCK’s Woodlands Race Track Sold
July 17, 2015

(AP) – A businessman has bought the Woodlands racetrack in Kansas City, Kansas.

The price that Phil Ruffin paid Woodlands owner Howard Grace for the track wasn’t disclosed.

The Wichita Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1HSEtfh ) Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island casino and hotel in Las Vegas, hopes to be able to simultaneously reopen the Woodlands and two tracks he already owns, Wichita Greyhound Park in Park City and Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac.

He anticipates hiring 500 to 700 people at the Woodlands.

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