Government & Politics

KC lawmaker resigns following investigation of sexual harassment complaint

A Democratic state lawmaker from Kansas City who was under investigation by the Missouri House Ethics Committee over allegations of sexual harassment against a former staffer has resigned.

Rep. DaRon McGee, who represents south Kansas City, declined to comment Monday afternoon on rumors of his impending resignation. He could not be reached Tuesday morning.

He submitted two letters of resignation Monday night, both saying that he was leaving to pursue a new job. The first said he would leave the General Assembly on Thursday. The second said his resignation was effective immediately.

The House Ethics Committee has been investigating McGee since early January when a complaint was filed saying he “attempted to engage in an amorous relationship with a House employee whom he supervised.”

According to a report printed in the House journal Monday night, McGee repeatedly failed to appear to testify before the committee, ultimately forcing House Speaker Elijah Haahr to issue a subpoena to compel him to testify.

“The committee finds that (McGee) has repeatedly delayed and obstructed these proceedings,” the House report said, “and impeded the resolution of this matter.”

The committee acquired text messages between McGee and the employee showing that he made several attempts over 10 months to initiate a sexual relationship with the employee that were rejected. He then took actions which resulted in the employee losing her job.

The committee says it gave McGee until Monday at noon to accept the recommended punishment, which included paying restitution to the House for the cost of its investigation and loss of all of his committee assignments.

McGee was also notified that failure to abide by the punishments recommended by the committee could result in him being expelled from the legislature.

McGee’s actions “constitute a moral and legal wrong,” the committee concluded.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, condemned McGee’s “indefensible behavior that has substantially broken the trust placed in him and constitutes abuse of his position.”

“The committee’s report makes it clear that the actions by Rep. McGee are inexcusable and absent his resignation from the House, the committee was prepared to recommend to the entire body severe disciplinary action,” Haahr said.

Earlier this month the same committee voted to condemn the actions of a Republican lawmaker from Lake Ozark who allegedly 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.”

McGee’s resignation comes nearly a year after former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned following a series of scandals and a pair of felony charges. Among the accusations: That Greitens engaged in coercive and violent sexual misconduct during a 2015 extramarital affair.

In 2015, then-House Speaker John Diehl, a Republican, was forced to resign after The Star revealed he’d been sending sexually charged text messages to a 19-year-old legislative intern. A few months later, then-Sen. Paul LeVota, a Democrat, resigned after a pair of former interns accused him of sexual harassment.

In the weeks between those resignations in 2015, dozens of women told The Star that a culture of sexual harassment had been pervasive in the Missouri Capitol for decades.

The House revamped its intern and sexual harassment policies, which now include mandatory sexual harassment training for legislators and staff, a ban on romantic fraternization and the creation of an intern ombudsman.

The sexual harassment policy also lays out the process for investigations involving lawmakers.

McGee served assistant minority floor leader, the second highest-ranking member of the Democratic Party in the House. He was widely believed to be considering a run for state Senate, either for the seat of Sen. Kiki Curls or Sen. Jason Holsman in 2020 when both leave office because of term limits.

Prior to his time in the legislature, McGee worked on Capitol Hill as Congressional Black Caucus Fellow and intern for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. He graduated from Grandview High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He received his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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.