Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler is embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit that raises serious and troubling questions about his use of his office and other state services.
And even his version of the allegations at the center of the lawsuit leave his leadership in serious doubt.
This is a situation that simply cannot exist in the office that oversees the state’s voting system.
A longtime employee of Schedler filed a lawsuit against him in February claiming that he had made multiple advances and punished the woman professionally when she rejected them. Also, it claims that sent her love letters and went to her home with objectionable presents.
It also claims that Schedler used state security workers to help spy on the woman. It is this claim that merits a thorough investigation independent of the ongoing lawsuit filed by the worker.
For his part, Schedler has denied the abusive treatment, saying that he had carried on a consensual affair with the woman.
Even if his explanation is the truth, it does little to quell the understandable frustration of the public. Conducting a sexual relationship with one’s subordinate – even if it is consensual – is not the sort of thing that should be happening at the highest levels of state government or in any workplace, for that matter.
After all, when one person is the boss and the other is an employee, it is extremely difficult to determine whether a relationship is truly consensual. That is why such relationships are discouraged or prohibited in many workplaces.
In addition, if such a relationship took place, it would have created an unwanted atmosphere for the other workers in the office.
At the very least, Schedler has admitted to using poor judgement in leading an important state office.
And overseeing Louisiana’s election system is at the heart of the job. That is a duty that should not be taken lightly and should not be compromised by outside considerations.
Schedler has so far state that he has no plans to resign but that he will not seek re-election when his present term in office ends in 2020.
That is a shame. The people deserve public servants who work diligently and honestly on behalf of the state. In this case, the lawsuit and Schedler’s response to it casts his ability to lead into serious doubt.
It would be better for Louisiana if he were to step aside.
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