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State House GOP plans sanctions against embattled Rep. Nick Miccarelli

HARRISBURG — Republican leaders at the State House are planning to strip state Rep. Nick Miccarelli of his committee assignments and enacting other sanctions due to his alleged violations of caucus policy relating to the sexual assault and domestic violence claims made against him by two female accusers.

The complaints against Miccarelli, a Delaware County Republican, were filed by Luzerne County Rep. Tarah Toohil and a Harrisburg political consultant who has refused to be publicly identified. The House GOP investigated the claims and found them to be credible.

In a memo issued Thursday, Republican leaders say they plan to move Miccarelli’s seat on the House floor to put more distance between him and Toohil, who currently sits 10 seats away from him in the same row. Toohil filed a three-year protection from abuse order against Miccarelli.

Miccarelli is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, but has refused calls from Republican leadership to resign.

The House GOP memo says:

The House Republican Leadership team will be asking the Committee on Committees to remove Representative Nick Miccarelli from all standing committees due to a continuing breach of House Republican Caucus policy. Separately, we are also moving his seat on the House Floor.

During the initial investigation of allegations made against Representative Miccarelli, conducted through the long-standing House Republican Caucus harassment policy, it was found that the allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse were credible. Information gathered was turned over to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office for its review and possible action. During that initial investigation, and several times afterwards, Representative Miccarelli was specifically informed of the terms of the caucus policy, which includes a prohibition against retaliation. He subsequently was found to have violated that policy on more than one occasion.

Based on the results of the investigation – including the investigation into retaliation – Republican Leadership called for his resignation. Since that time, Representative Miccarelli’s privately paid spokesman has continuously mischaracterized our position.

After receiving a supplemental complaint, a follow-up investigation ensued and was completed today. The result of the follow-up investigation found Representative Miccarelli again violated the policy. He has continued to maintain for months a statement on Facebook that was specifically identified by the House as a retaliation. Furthermore, he retaliated through the dissemination of sexually explicit emails and images without a valid purpose.

The House Committee on Committees is scheduled to issue a report next week to take action consistent with the General Operating Rules of the House of Representatives. Per House Rule 43, it is the committee’s responsibility “to recommend to the House the names of members who are to serve on the standing committees of the House.”

The Republican Caucus of the House of Representatives does not tolerate retaliation against any individual who reports or makes a complaint about harassment or improper conduct, or who assists in an investigation of harassment.

While we have taken a strong but measured approach to enforce our own Caucus policies, we have also reached out to Democratic Leader Dermody to learn if he would like to propose similar action for members of his caucus who have been charged with criminal activity or who have been accused of sexual harassment for which there was a taxpayer-funded settlement.

Frank Keel, a spokesman for Miccarelli, issued a statement in response on Thursday. It reads:

“First and foremost, Rep. Miccarelli continues to maintain his innocence. Regarding the Caucus leadership’s actions based on the Caucus investigators’ supplemental investigative  report, Rep. Miccarelli, like any other member of the State House, has no choice but to accede while he continues to prove his innocence based on the credible, tangible evidence he has produced to the proper authorities to date.
 
“Rep. Miccarrelli however would like to make the following additional points: 
 
“First, the Representative produced the entire body of texts and images exchanged between himself and the anonymous complainant to two members of the media to rebut the serious, false allegations of rape which have been sadly lodged against him.  The production of the entirety of this electronic exchange over many years was necessary to provide essential context on the scope, nature, intimacy and length of the consensual relationship between him and the anonymous complainant.  The evidence was provided with the explicit understanding that it was not to be disseminated by the media representatives. Nick has the right to rebut false accusations made against him, as does every American citizen. The evidence was provided solely to defend Nick; not to harass, embarrass, annoy or intimidate the anonymous complainant. It was only provided to two media representatives and no one else
 
“Second, the identification of the anonymous complainant was not for harassment, embarrassment, retaliatory or like purposes. Nick had ample reason to believe that her name had already been made public by the media. On February 26, 2018, Nick was on jury duty when the media contacted him about the complainants’ claims.  The media specifically identified the “anonymous complainant” by her first and last name, demanding that Nick respond to her false claim of sexual assault.  Since the media was freely identifying her by name, Nick had no reason to believe the complainant sought anonymity.  Under an extremely short time constraint, Nick responded to the media inquiries with a text that noted who the media identified as a complainant and, accepting the truthfulness of the media’s representation, that her allegations were false.  Nick posted his subsequent response to the media on his personal Facebook page.  Thereafter, media publications reported that one of the complainants was requesting anonymity.  Nick has since removed the complainant’s name from his Facebook page. Finally, it needs to be restated that the sole purpose of Nick and his representatives’ actions were to defend Nick against these false allegations, not to harass, embarrass, threaten or intimidate the complainants.”