Sun, Jan 28, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Republican lawmakers sorry for crude remarks

AP, COLUMBUS, Ohio

Two Republican state lawmakers on Friday apologized for offensive remarks they made during a top House staffer’s going-away party that made light of recent sexual misconduct scandals and disparaged female lawmakers.

Ohio Representative Bill Seitz and Ohio Senator Matt Huffman separately expressed regret for vulgar and derogatory jokes they made on Tuesday at the farewell celebration for Ohio House of Representatives Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe.

Their remarks came less than a week after the House completed newly mandated sexual harassment training.

Seitz, a veteran lawmaker known for his oratory, issued an open letter overnight on Thursday to House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger and fellow House members saying that he regretted any shame, distress or embarrassment he caused with his comments.

Among other things, he maligned Republican state Representative Candice Keller and former state representative Diana Fessler with name-calling and suggestive and sexist jokes.

“My words were irresponsible as a member of this esteemed institution and as a member of House leadership,” Seitz wrote.

Huffman apologized for remarks including a vulgar term for female genitalia.

“I understand why people at the event were offended, and I apologize,” Huffman said in a statement released through Ohio Senate leadership on Friday. “I am truly sorry.”

The event, styled as a roast and offering an open bar, was held at the posh Athletic Club in downtown Columbus. About 100 lawmakers, lobbyists and staff members attended.

Keller was not there, but at least one other female House member walked out because the proceedings turned so vulgar.

Seitz fell afterward and broke his ankle.

Keller said she was shocked and disappointed when she heard about Seitz’s comments, which included saying that she wears a “tin foil hat.”

“It’s very hurtful and very embarrassing. I can’t explain why,” Keller said. “It’s humiliating for some reason, and I didn’t really do anything. I find it odd, really, in light of the Harvey Weinstein culture in which we live, that everyone isn’t more cautious.”

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