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Secretary of State Tom Schelder, currently facing sexual harassment allegations, speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at his office in Baton Rouge, La.

Okay, I think we’ve all heard enough.

There are no two sides here, no innocent way to read the internal documents obtained by The Advocate’s Jim Mustian documenting Republican Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s on-the-job pursuit of longtime employee Dawn Ross, whose lawsuit against him launched calls that he resign from some female legislators of both parties and from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Other politicians, including many longtime associates of the onetime Republican state senator, initially responded to the suit with caution, suggesting he deserves his day in court. Schedler himself claimed he and Ross has a consensual relationship, which she denies, and later insisted that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Under fire, he announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2019 but refused to resign, citing important work still to be done.

That position was barely tenable then. It’s not at all tenable now that the evidence is out.

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Schedler spent years sending sexually inappropriate emails to Ross on official time using his official account. He said he was undressing her in his mind. When she asked for a few minutes to discuss work, he demanded she have lunch and dinner with him. He called her a “hot gal.”

His office blacked out many of these exchanges when it complied with a public records request, calling them personal in nature, but the paper obtained unredacted copies. Needless to say, there’s nothing “personal” about abusive treatment of an employee on the job.

Upon reading the news, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy became the first Congressional Republican to say Schedler needs to go (state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, who shares Schedler's Slidell base, had previously done so, back when Kennedy was still withholding judgment).  

He shouldn't be the last. In opting to stay on, Schedler argued that he’s just too vital to the office’s operations to step aside quickly. But if this is what he’s doing at work, he should not be a public employee at all, let alone leader of a major government department.

And if this is how he treats even one subordinate, he should not be the boss of anyone.


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.