State Democratic Party adds to calls for lawmaker to resign
FILE: In this May 1, 2015, photo Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, takes part in a May Day demonstration in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(Harrisburg) — Leaders of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party on Friday added to calls for a state senator to resign over accusations of sexual misconduct.
The statement came a day after the Senate’s top Democrat said an inquiry into complaints about Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County, found a “lengthy pattern of troubling behavior.”
Among the claims explored in the lawyer’s inquiry is a woman’s complaint that she was 17 in 1991 when Leach allegedly lured her into his home and pressured her for oral sex. Leach denies it ever happened. The investigation also looked into reports of harassment and offensive jokes.
A summary of the findings said there are “certain factual inconsistencies” in the woman’s recollection of what happened but said the claim could likely only be resolved if the parties testified under oath.
“Pennsylvanians deserve legislators who can support women in both policy and in practice,” party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills and Vice Chairman Sharif Street said in a three-sentence statement. “Abusive behavior from anyone — Democrat or Republican — is unacceptable and has no place in Harrisburg.”
Leach, a longtime standard-bearer for liberal causes in the state Legislature, has rebuffed calls from Democrats to resign going back to 2017.
He says he has never been predatory toward women or deliberately made anyone uncomfortable, though he acknowledged that he has used poor judgment in his choice of humor. He also said the lawyer’s inquiry absolves him.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa disputed that Thursday in calling for Leach’s resignation.
Some of the claims against Leach involve behavior that Costa, D-Allegheny, said created an unprofessional and sexualized environment in Leach’s office.
On Friday, Leach’s campaign issued a fundraising email and a statement that suggested he has no plans to resign, saying “I look to forward to focusing my full energies on protecting the values and principles that are important to us all.” His four-year term runs through 2020.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called for Leach to resign in December 2017 after a Philadelphia Inquirer report quoted former campaign and legislative aides, mostly anonymously, accusing Leach of making sexualized jokes and comments and touching women in ways they considered inappropriate.