Lawmaker disputes GOP caucus support for speaker


House Republicans in Frankfort voiced their support Friday for Kentucky's Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover.

"As we move forward right now, he has the full support of this caucus to lead it", Rep. Jonathan Shell told a bank of reporters outside the House GOP offices Friday.

"Right now, we're working off of rumor and allegation and what we're trying to do is work on this pension issue", Shell said.

Shell said lawmakers discussed the matter in Friday's closed-door meeting at the Capitol but that no vote was taken regarding Hoover's status as House speaker. Morgan said the only option was for Hoover to resign or be impeached.

Shell and Hoover, in fact, have said they cannot vote for the bill without changes, although both have said they remain confident they can come up with a bill which will pass the House and Senate and satisfy Bevin.

Asked why Hoover use the opportunity to put any false rumors to rest, the leader said the speaker was in a meeting.

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Except to say members discussed "rumors in the media", Shell didn't directly answer questions about whether Hoover denied or confirmed The Courier-Journal story. But it appears Hoover did not offer more information during the meeting on Friday.

"We have a determination to make sure that we address the pension crisis in a substantial way, and that's what we're doing", Shell said. He said he is not calling for Hoover's impeachment.

Shell would not confirm whether the harassment allegations are true or if a settlement was reached.

Shell's comments occurred following a three-hour meeting of House Republicans, originally scheduled to discuss proposed legislation to alter the structure of Kentucky's badly underfunded public pension systems.

Shell said he's optimistic that lawmakers will reach an agreement on the pension issue before the end of the year so that Gov. Matt Bevin can call a special legislative session.

He conceded the bill "was in trouble" before the allegations about Hoover became public. House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins declined to comment on the allegations, but added "the General Assembly has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of harassment".