Louisiana Secretary of State resigns

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Today, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released following statement on the resignation of Secretary of State Tom Schedler:

“Given the serious nature of the allegations, in February, I called on Secretary of State Tom Schedler to resign. In light of the additional information that has been disclosed, I believe this is the best course of action for Tom, his family, and the state of Louisiana.”

Schedler, who tendered his resignation today to Edwards, announced his resignation will be effective, Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

The Secretary of State’s resignation comes two-and-a-half months since Dawn Ross, a former employee, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

Edwards and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy were among those publicly calling for Schedler to step down after allegations in the lawsuit became public.

Ross served as an administrative specialist for Schedler’s office where she claims that since her being hired in 2004 he numerous unwanted sexual advances toward her while abusing his authority whenever she declined. In the affidavit Ross detailed several encounters with Schedler stating that he has sent her love letters, gifts, offered to take her out on dates, and even a “sex-tape.”

In her petition, Ross listed more than a dozen other instances that span across multiple years. In each case, the suit alleges, Ross declined and made clear she wasn’t interested.

Although the case has not gone to trial, his letter of resignation, Schedler wrote he was leaving office “with a heavy heart.”

He wrote, “I have disappointed the people in my life who care for me the most,” he wrote, but added he also has “experienced from them the miraculous power of forgiveness and grace during the twilight of my career, and for that, I am grateful.”

But Schedler did not conclude the letter without taking a swipe at the media, noting his frustration with “the tabloid approach” of the coverage, and also to “the necessity of following the advice of counsel to not try this publicly.”

 According to Article IV, Section 16 of the Louisiana Constitution, if the unexpired terms of a statewide elected official exceeds one year, the First Assistant Secretary of State (Kyle Ardoin) fills the unexpired term of office.  

The Governor will call a special election to fill the vacancy at the next regularly scheduled congressional or statewide election.  The next available dates are the Mid-Term Congressional Elections scheduled for November 6, 2018 and December 8, 2018. 

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