3 in Ohio House want lawmaker to resign over crass remarks
A group of Democratic women in the Ohio House on Thursday called for the resignation of a veteran Republican lawmaker who was compelled to apologize for making offensive remarks during a staff member’s going-away party.
State Reps. Nickie Antonio, Teresa Fedor and Michele Lepore-Hagan told Republican House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger in a letter that Rep. Bill Seitz’s conduct “falls far short of the standard by which elected officials should conduct themselves.”
“If we want real change, we cannot continue to let members treat the Statehouse like their own personal playground,” they wrote. “Taking responsibility means doing what is hard and holding perpetrators of workplace harassment accountable for their actions.”
The 63-year-old Seitz, a Cincinnati attorney, reportedly disparaged a current and a former female House member during a Jan. 23 roast honoring outgoing Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe. He also made light of sexual-misconduct scandals that led to two legislators’ resignations last year.
His remarks came the same week House members received training on sexual harassment that was newly mandated in light of the Ohio and national scandals.
Seitz said Thursday that he had not yet seen the letter, which he called politically motivated. He said none of the Democratic lawmakers calling for him to resign was at the party and none had spoken to him about it.
“I can categorically say I’m not resigning,” he said. “I don’t need to read the letter to say that.”
On orders from Rosenberger, Seitz issued an open letter last week addressed to the speaker and House colleagues saying he regretted any shame, distress or embarrassment he caused with his comments.
Among other things, Seitz was criticized as sexist for name-calling aimed at two female lawmakers: state Rep. Candice Keller and former state Rep. Diana Fessler, both Republicans.