Secretary of State Tom Schedler has announced his resignation following allegations of sexual harassment.
Several Louisiana lawmakers, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, called for Schedler to resign when an employee filed a lawsuit in February.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) supports Schedler’s decision to leave office, and says the state doesn’t currently have policies in place to adequately address sexual harassment.
“We know that we absolutely need to do better in state government in terms of state policy," she says, "I think the legislation that we have going forward will move us in the right direction.”
Hewitt has been working on legislation this session that would strengthen the response to sexual harassment claims within state government — an area where there is currently no standard policy against sexual misconduct in place.
Rep. Julie Stokes (R-Kenner), who is considering a run for Secretary of State, says the national conversation around the MeToo movement further spurred the Legislature to address the issue of sexual harassment, pointing to "a general cultural change where we want to straighten out some of these inequities and some of the ways we treat our women."
Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) says her concern was whether the allegations against Schedler were too much of a distraction from his job supervising elections.
“To the extent that you can not focus on protecting that constitutional right because of your personal decisions, I think you have to resign," she explains.
Schedler initially refused calls for his resignation, opting instead to not seek re-election in 2019. But pressure increased last week, when sexually suggestive emails he sent to the employee were made public.
Schedler’s last day will be May 8. Assistant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will fill the seat until a special election is held.