Former campaign, legislative staffers and advisers say state Sen. Daylin Leach (D), “a legislator since 2003, has for years engaged in questionable behavior with young female staffers and volunteers, from highly sexualized jokes and comments to touching they deemed inappropriate. The behavior was all the more jarring, they said, given his reputation as a stalwart defender of women’s rights.” Leach, who is the front-runner in the race to face Rep. Pat Meehan (R), “declined to be interviewed for this story” but “provided a lengthy statement in which he blamed the accusations on an unnamed political opponent and denied ever inappropriately touching women. He noted that he sometimes does touch people when he is talking to them and that ‘some people subjectively find such touching unpleasant.’”
“In an interview this month, the former Senate staffer, who spoke on condition that she not be named, said she first met Leach at an after-party for the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit at the Federal Taphouse in Harrisburg in February 2015. At the time, she was working for the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, the fund-raising arm that Leach then-chaired. The woman said Leach asked her about the work she was doing for the committee, and then slid his hand down her back and ‘touched my butt.’ She yelled at Leach, she said, only to be told by one of his top campaign aides that her response was inappropriate.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Gov. Tom Wolf (D) called on Leach to resign following the accusations. Wolf called Leach “a leader on important policy issues” but said “this conduct cannot be excused.’” One of Leach’s accusers, his former Finance Director Aubrey Montgomery, has worked for Leach’s primary opponent, 2016 PA-02 candidate Dan Muroff (D). (AP)
Another primary opponent, IT consultant Andrew McGinty (D), called on Leach to resign. “I wholeheartedly believe the brave women and men who have come forward with their allegations against Senator Leach,” he said. (PennLive.com)
Meehan’s seat in the Philadelphia suburbs narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is a top Democratic target. Medical researcher Molly Sheehan (D) and businesswoman Elizabeth Moro (D) are also in the primary.
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