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Edwards calls on Schedler to resign

BATON ROUGE, LA - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has joined the chorus of elected officials demanding Secretary of State Tom Schedler step down, amid sexual harassment claims.

"I do believe he should resign," the governor told reporters after a rotary luncheon Wednesday. "I think it would be best for the secretary of state himself, but also his family and that agency and the State of Louisiana."

Edwards' comments come just hours after state Sen. Sharon Hewitt recommended that Schedler resign. Hewitt is the first Republican elected official to do so.

"I've read the detailed and documented accusations of sexual harassment against Tom Schedler," Hewitt said in a statement Wednesday. "It is very sad to read charges about someone I've known for years and consider a friend."

A lawsuit filed last week claims Schedler, the state's chief elections officer since 2011, harassed a woman employee in his office for more than a decade. The suit alleges he purchased a townhouse across from the woman, making comments at work that he was watching her at home and tracking her boyfriend. The woman said the secretary sent her wine, sex tapes and love letters, then reassigned her when she rejected his advances.

Schedler said in a statement late last week that the relationship was consensual. The woman has denied the secretary's claim.

"Sadly, I’ve reached the conclusion that Secretary Schedler can no longer be an effective leader or role model for our state," Hewitt said. "In the coming days, I hope that he too will reach the same conclusion and consider stepping down.”

Hewitt's statement is the latest to recommend Schedler resign. Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk urged him to step down last week.

"Secretary of State Schedler either needs to clear his name or step down," he said. "It's deeply troubling that he isn't denying the allegations and is still holding his position. This is beyond party politics."

The Secretary of State's office declined comment on the calls to resign.


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