The Disquiet Was Not All KelseyAccusations are flying all over the blogosphere that Rep. Brian Kelsey is the real party responsible for the stress-induced illness of Rep. Susan Lynn. Of late, Rep. Mike Turner has gotten in on the act, himself declaring that Kelsey caused all of this, because Kelsey is the one who filed the complaint against Kent Williams which formally alleges an event which all involved acknowledge occurred, and which Williams admitted happened at the time and now denies. In declaring that Lynn is under stress because of the Kelsey complaint, Turner seems to be acknowledging the truth of the allegations against Williams whether he intends to or not. Susan Lynn would no doubt be under the very same stress whether the complaint was filed by Kelsey or by her and she had to dredge this up before the Ethics Committee.
Where bloggers on the Left and Democrats who just want to keep all of this quiet may be erring is in the idea that Susan Lynn would not have eventually filed a complaint herself. From her planned statement to the Ethics Committee:
“On Tuesday, January 13, as the member [Williams] in question was being
nominated many of us were very angry but I maybe more so. Sitting with my
husband and our newly married daughter who both knew about the events of two
years earlier, I struggled greatly with the grave injustice.”
“I curiously watched the news to see what the speaker would say.
I expected him to state that it happened, he apologized and that as far as he
knew it was over. And truly, if he had said that it would have been
over. What a tremendous shock to hear him deny the events and the
apology. Essentially, he is calling me and everyone else that witnessed
his deeds a liar.”
Susan Lynn was indeed outraged that day, as was Rep. Debra Maggart who sits next to Lynn on the House floor. The two women were among the unhappiest people to be seen on the floor, and that is saying something because Stacey Campfield looked as though he would go postal on the Democrats, Frank Niceley looked like he could punch a hole in the wall, Bill Dunn just looked disgusted, and several people told me later on that I looked so red-faced that they feared I was going to snap. While I am sure my Irish was showing in a myriad of ways, I kept my cool and saved the griping for a beer and a sandwich after the session.
Lynn and Maggart, however, were extremely distraught, and at first I did not know why. Lynn muttered something (I did not hear what specifically) about sexual harassment, and she scurried out of the chamber almost as soon as the session was over. Maggart was equally as upset as Lynn, and I soon learned that she had witnessed one of the incidents in question. In talking to Representative Lynn later, she seemed to indicate that her primary concern was that bringing forth a complaint at this time might seem like sour grapes and would not be taken seriously. She, Maggart, and others all showed a genuine fear that Williams, now that he was Speaker, might engage in similar behavior again.
With this in mind, I do not necessarily share the opinion that others do that Susan Lynn would simply not have filed an ethics complaint, and that this would not be an issue without Brian Kelsey. Instead, I think that if Lynn chose to file a complaint, she may simply have waited to do so in her own time and on her own terms.
Yesterday I said on Twitter that I believed Brian Kelsey had overstepped his bounds in filing the ethics complaint against Kent Williams. I have great respect for Kelsey and his zeal for doing what is right, and I truly believe that was his intent in this case. However, this complaint gets nowhere unless Susan Lynn is the one who brings it. Further, in taking the preemptive action to file the complaint himself instead of Lynn, Kelsey has made it nearly impossible for any future complaint by Susan Lynn to be taken seriously.
The one good thing about all of this is that perhaps it has scared Kent Williams straight about what is appropriate professional behavior in the Legislature. A lot of us do not trust Williams and believe that he became Speaker in an ill-gotten way, but he is legally the Speaker of the House. The best that anyone can do under the present circumstances in the 106th General Assembly is roll up their sleeves and try to work with what they have. The acrimony is there, but it can't be allowed to run the House of Representatives.