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State senator says statehouse is "men's club"

He says that sexual harassment has been an issue at the statehouse for years

DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - When it comes to all of the sexual harassment controversy at the statehouse, many lawmakers prefer to stay tight lipped.

But there's a senator from northwest Iowa, David Johnson, who last year abandoned his republican affiliation and became and independent.

He is not being quiet about what he says is inappropriate behavior at the state capitol.

"It's a terrible environment," said Johnson. "I'm not involved in that myself... It's an environment that needs to change, but I don't think it's going to until we get an independent investigation as to what really happened."

The sexual harassment investigation at the statehouse was sparked by a lawsuit from a former Republican staffer. She won the lawsuit, and is getting paid $2 million of taxpayer money. After her lawsuit, the Secretary of the Senate conducted an internal investigation of the Republican Senate's sexual harassment situation. An independent counselor, Mary Kramer, was tapped to help lead the statehouse in sexual harassment issues. She's a former lawmaker herself. Johnson doesn't believe that was the right move.

"I welcome her participation, but I'm not sure it's going to be independent," said Johnson. "There has to be some change, there has to be some long-term change."

Johnson described more details about what the statehouse environment has been like.

"Bad jokes. sexually suggestive jokes. comments on people, especially females," said Johnson. "It's definitely a men's club."

Johnson said that he wants Sen. Bill Dix, the Majority Leader who's been in charge of the internal investigation, to step down from his position and accuses him of being part of problem.

"I do believe that the majority leader has a responsibility here, and I do believe he was aware of this situation and didn't really do anything about it until Kirsten Anderson filed her complaint....there's a set up going on there that isn't right," said Johnson.

Senator Johnson also said there are not enough women serving in office, and if there were more, it would be a more accurate reflection of Iowa.


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