Republican Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Fall Creek, has called for Sen. Jeff Kruse to step down, while Republican legislators announced Kruse would not be in the Capitol building for the next two weeks.
These announcements Wednesday followed the release Tuesday of a 51-page independent report that found Kruse, R-Roseburg, had harassed female legislators, law students, legislative staff members and a lobbyist even after he’d been warned he must stop. The allegations ranged from hugging to “cupping” buttocks with his hand. Kruse said he was preparing a rebuttal and doesn’t intend to resign; however, on Wednesday, the Republican Caucus issued a press release announcing it had accepted Kruse’s offer not to be in the Capitol building until the procedure for addressing the allegations is concluded.
The Senate Conduct Committee will review the investigative report Feb. 22.
“The behavior alleged in the report, if true, is obviously not acceptable to the Senate Republican caucus. This is why we have accepted Senator Kruse’s, a 22-year veteran of the Oregon legislature offer to leave the Capitol building, taking with him the opportunity to represent his district pending the conclusion of the process,” the caucus said in its statement.
Hayden, who serves north Douglas County and south Lane County said he believes stepping down is the responsible thing for Kruse to do.
“It’s clear after reading the investigative report that Senator Kruse can no longer be an effective leader for his district, and for rural Oregon,” Hayden said in a statement issued Wednesday. “The people of his district, and Roseburg, a community we both represent, are being shortchanged.”
Hayden also said lawmakers, advocates and Capitol visitors need to know legislators won’t tolerate “an environment where their safety is at risk.”
Kruse has said he does not plan to resign, but Hayden said Kruse should allow another community leader to take his place.
“It’s discouraging to see news reports that Senator Kruse is digging in on this issue,” Hayden said.
The investigation followed formal complaints by Sens. Sara Gelser and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, both Democrats, that Kruse had inappropriately touched them. According to the investigator, Kruse was warned in 2016 not to touch women in the Capitol beyond shaking their hands, but Kruse continued inappropriately touching multiple women anyway. While many of the voices that have called for Kruse to step down have been Democratic, Hayden is not the first Republican to call for Kruse’s resignation.
The Oregonian reported that Republicans Rep. Knute Buehler, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and Rep. Julie Parrish have also said Kruse should resign.