Butler County GOP wears pink to support women after last week’s Statehouse roast controversy

Most Butler County Republican party member wore something pink at Tuesday night’s statewide candidate endorsement meeting, standing with the party’s executive chairman who said, “Misogynistic ideas and comments are not welcome.”

The party’s stand comes a week after comments were made by Statehouse members at a roast which led to a pair of apologies from Ohio Rep. Bill Seitz and Ohio Sen. Matt Huffman. One of Seitz’s alleged comments at the roast targeted Middletown state Rep. Candice Keller, who told this news organization last week she was “livid.”

“(There is) absolutely no place for demeaning comments about women in our society,” said Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall.

OHIO STATEHOUSE: Rep. Bill Seitz, Sen. Matt Huffman apologize for roast comments

Last week, GOP state lawmakers gathered at the Athletic Club of Columbus to roast the outgoing Ohio House Republican Caucus chief of staff. Comments made during the roast were reportedly sexist and demeaning toward women, according to an online Ohio politics blog. 

Ohio GOP Central Committee member Gary Cates, a former Butler County state lawmaker, said he was “disappointed” and “disheartened” by Seitz, Huffman and others who allowed this to go on.

“When you look at what’s going on nationally, the backdrop of sexual harassment in the music industry and in politics, it’s disheartening to think people look at, and treat, women in that regard,” he said. “We don’t have any place for (that rhetoric).”

INITIAL REPORT: Area state lawmaker ‘livid’ over alleged comments at roast

Seitz reportedly said Keller and former state lawmaker Diana Fessler wore tin foil hats, according to the blog’s report. The Cincinnati lawmaker also made a joke involving former Sen. Cliff Hite’s October resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment of a female staffer.

Seitz issued a written apology and was directed by Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger to offer a verbal apology to Keller, as well as the members of the Ohio House.

Huffman was the roast’s emcee. He issued a one-sentence apology through the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus.

“I understand why people at the event were offended, and I apologize. I am truly sorry,” Huffman said.

This is not the first time a politician has been accused of inappropriate comments or sexual harassment, in Ohio and beyond. After the report of sexual harassment by disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein in October, a rash of other harassment allegations followed.

READ: Ohio Rep. Bill Seitz’s full apology to Rep. Candice Keller, Ohio House

Since the Oct. 5 Weinstein allegations, The New York Times reports that more than 50 men — including former Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay — resigned or were fired after they were accused of sexual harassment. Kentucky Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, resigned as the commonwealth’s House speaker but retained his seat in the legislature after a report that he settled a sexual harassment claim by an employee.

Former state lawmaker Connie Pillich, who is running for Ohio governor, is calling for Seitz and Huffman to resign.

“Rep. Bill Seitz’ and Sen. Matt Huffman’s abhorrent and misogynistic remarks show we have a dire problem that can no longer be ignored,” she said. “Rep. Seitz and Sen. Huffman should resign.”

Cates said it all comes down to respect, and society in general needs to “keep things on the high side.”

“We just need to show respect to everybody,” he said. “Men and women, black and white, Republicans and Democrats, and a lot of the negative stuff can be avoided.”

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