Schedler remains on the job despite calls to resign over sexual misconduct lawsuit
It’s been more than two weeks since a sexual misconduct suit was filed against Secretary of State Tom Schedler by a longtime employee of his office, prompting calls from Gov. John Bel Edwards and several other lawmakers for Schedler to resign.
But Schedler is still on the job and the controversy has quieted for the moment. Is he hoping to ride it out?
Schedler won’t say and has declined to comment, since initially denying the harassment allegations but admitting to what he characterized as a consensual relationship with the woman, a subordinate. His spokeswoman says she has no further updates.
Edwards also declines to weigh in further, after having said on Feb. 28 it would be best for the state and the Schedler family for Schedler to resign immediately.
Schedler’s attorney, Floyd Falcon, says he hasn’t spoken to his client in 10 days and doesn’t get involved in the politics so can’t say what Schedler is planning to do. But he says his client still hasn’t been served with the lawsuit, filed Feb. 22 in 19th Judicial District Court.
“We’ve seen the suit but we still haven’t been served so the clock doesn’t start running until we’re served,” Falcon says.
Jill Craft, who represents the plaintiff in the case, has records showing an assistant in Schedler’s office accepted the suit Feb. 27 on behalf of Schedler in his official capacity as secretary of state. Records do not indicate he was served personally. Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office also was served.
In the meantime, one of those calling for Schedler’s resignation—state. Rep. Sharon Hewitt, a fellow Republican from New Orleans’ northshore—says she is still hopeful he will “do the appropriate thing and step down.” But she is not concerned it is taking so long.
“I think he has a number of issues he has to sort through and has to get some professional advice,” she says. “I believe when he’s had an opportunity to sort through all that he will take the appropriate steps.”
She adds she is confident Schedler will not seek reelection in 2019. Political pollster Bernie Pinsonat isn’t so sure Schedler will step down before then, nor does he think the secretary should resign necessarily.
“There aren’t multiple people involved,” Pinsonat says. “There is just one woman and it is a he said-she said situation, so unless there is another shoe to fall I think he is willing to play it out and stick it out.”