Government & Politics

Missouri House ethics panel says GOP lawmaker spread affair rumor about colleague

File photo of Missouri Rep. Rocky Miller of Lake Ozark.
File photo of Missouri Rep. Rocky Miller of Lake Ozark. The Kansas City Star

A Missouri House ethics committee says that a Republican lawmaker from Lake Ozark spread a false rumor that one of his colleagues was having an affair with a legislative staffer, calling it “conduct unbecoming of a state legislator.”

The lawmaker, Rep. Rocky Miller, was forced to attend sexual harassment training, but will not face any further disciplinary actions.

Last September, a Missouri House employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against Miller, who has served in the legislature since 2012 and is chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Specifically, the employee alleged Miller created a false rumor that the employee was having an affair with another legislator.

An outside investigation conducted for the House Ethics Committee concluded that Miller’s actions weren’t severe or pervasive enough to qualify as sexual harassment under federal or state law but may have violated the House’s sexual harassment policy.

The committee’s findings were printed in the House Journal.

Miller did not respond to a request for comment by The Star Friday afternoon.

Upon the initial complaint, Miller was required by the House to attend sexual harassment training and wrote a letter of apology to the complainant.

Then in January, another legislator notified the committee that Miller again implied there was a romantic relationship between the complainant and the second representative in January 2019 after Miller had received additional sexual harassment training and after he had written a personal letter of apology to the complainant.

The committee said it couldn’t conclude for certain what Miller discussed in January because of a lack of witnesses and evidence.

Ultimately, the committee concluded that “the false rumor was personally hurtful and professionally damaging to both complainant and the second representative.”

The House implemented a new sexual harassment policy in 2015 after former Speaker John Diehl was forced to resign from the Missouri General Assembly following The Star’s report that he had engaged in a sexually charged relationship with a 19-year-old House intern.

Jason Hancock is The Star’s lead political reporter, providing coverage of government and politics on both sides of the state line. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he has written about politics for more than a decade for news organizations across the Midwest.