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September 28, 2013

‘Leadership vacuum’ concerns legislative leaders

FRANKFORT — Legislative leaders want to address the “leadership vacuum” created by the resignation of their staff director at a meeting of the Legislative Research Commission next week.

The LRC is governed by a group of 16 legislators representing both parties and both chambers of the General Assembly. The body is co-chaired by the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. The commission’s staff was headed by Robert “Bobby” Sherman for 14 years before he resigned last Friday.

Sherman’s resignation came in the wake of a growing list of allegations of sexual harassment and other alleged inappropriate behavior by lawmakers toward LRC staff.

Friday, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, signed a letter to the other 13 members of the commission requesting the group meet Wednesday to discuss two items related to Sherman’s resignation.

“First, the resignation of Bobby Sherman on September 30, 2013, has left a leadership vacuum within the administrative staff,” the letter states. It goes on to say there are four deputy directors but none has the authority to assume Sherman’s duties.

Friday’s letter from the three legislative leaders said Sherman “designated Robert Jenkins the administrator in charge.” But that is temporary, the letter says, until the full commission can meet and take action.

The letter states the commission needs to “immediately begin to address the process to find a permanent successor to Mr. Sherman. This is a critical position and will not be easy to fill. The last time the organization conducted a search was in 1988.”

Sherman, 61, took over after that search, beginning in 1999.

Stumbo did not sign the letter but later Friday issued a statement saying he agreed with the other three leaders’ call for a meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 125 of the Capitol Annex.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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