Editorials

More intern troubles in Missouri call for tighter rules

Former Missouri House speaker John Diehl resigned following the disclosure that he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern.
Former Missouri House speaker John Diehl resigned following the disclosure that he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern. The Associated Press

Fresh allegations that college interns may have been mistreated while working in the Missouri Capitol demand a reassessment of the legislative internship program and the conduct of people representing the Missouri General Assembly.

The latest reports involve the office of Sen. Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence. They follow by just days the resignation of House Speaker John Diehl after he admitted to an inappropriate texting relationship with a 19-year-old female intern from Missouri Southern State University.

Two interns from the University of Central Missouri who were assigned to LeVota’s office ended their internships after six weeks.

LeVota said in a statement he was told the interns, a man and a woman, were needed for a different assignment, and he was never notified of any problems.

But the university began an investigation, according to news reports. The Missouri Senate is also investigating.

It is unclear what is being reviewed, and which of a few people who are frequently in LeVota’s office might have been involved.

Legislative leaders must work with universities to set clear rules for making internships safe and professional.

For some lawmakers, that should involve an assessment of who is permitted to use their offices and for what purposes.

It’s unfortunate such steps are necessary. Elected officials should know what sort of behavior is appropriate when dealing with young adults. But obviously the rules need to be more clear.

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