Ron Berry Gets Old Job Back, But No Boss
August 25, 2015

(AP) – A Missouri Senate staff member was back at work Tuesday, a month after being fired by a senator who was facing allegations of sexually harassing interns.
Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota fired his chief of staff, Ron Berry, on July 24 shortly before LeVota announced his own resignation. Berry’s dismissal was immediate, but LeVota’s resignation didn’t take effect until this past Sunday.
With his former boss now gone, the Senate re-hired Berry as chief of staff for the vacant 11th Senatorial District, which covers LeVota’s hometown of Independence and other parts of the Kansas City area.
“Ron Berry has positive work experiences in state government and is locally connected to the 11th District,” Senate Administrator Marga Hoelscher said in a short written statement provided to The Associated Press. “Ron will assist current staff with constituent issues pertaining to the district.”
Under Senate rules, individual senators have authority to hire and fire their own staff. But when an office is vacant, employment decisions are made by the Senate. Hoelscher said she re-hired Berry with the support of the chamber’s top senators.
Berry declined to comment Tuesday about his re-hiring.

LeVota’s Relations with Top Advisor Strained Before Firing
July 29, 2015

Relations between Jackson County State Senator PaulLeVota and his Chief of Staff Ron Berry were strained in the week’s leading up to Berry’s firing late Friday afternoon, according to sources.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports LeVota fired Berry via e-mail Friday afternoon. Less than two hours later, LeVota announced his own resignation.

LeVota says he resigned because the allegations of sexually harassing female interns, including University of central Missouri student Alissa Hembree, who worked for him were distracting him from his job.
LeVota maintains he did nothing wrong.

A report from the student’s school, the University of Central Missouri, stated the “preponderance of the evidence supports that the Senator engaged in unwelcome sexual advances and made unwelcome sexual comments directed against Ms. Hembree”

Sources say LeVota believes Berry mishandled the of case of former intern..

A Senate report on the incident says Hemrbee went to Berry a week after LeVota made unwanted sexual advances toward her in late January, 2015.

The report says Hembree told Berry she wanted to keep the incident “off the record”.

The sources say LeVota did not think Berry had had that option of keeping the charges confidential. LeVota believed Berry was boundas a Senate employee to report what he was told to Senate authorities, according to the Senate’s policy against harassment on the job..

The senate report, described Berry as, “the primary contact for student interns in LeVota’s office”

But sources say Berry did not feel he had a supervisory roles, despite the Chief of staff title.Some think Berry felt cut off from the office, especially in the final days.

A source close to Sen. LeVota said the senator had lost confidence in Berry because Berry differed with LeVota in public over policy issues.

Normally a Chief of Staff is considered a lawmaker’s most trusted advisor.