The Republican Party of Florida hired a law firm that conducted a three-month investigation into sexual-harassment allegations involving party Chairman Joe Gruters but was “unable to substantiate the allegations and no accuser with firsthand knowledge was willing to come forward,” the party said in a statement Tuesday evening.
Gruters, a state senator from Sarasota and strong ally of former President Donald Trump, has led the state party since 2019 and this year was elected to a second two-year term as chairman.
The Florida Politics website first reported about the investigation. Politico Florida said the allegations stemmed from an incident during this year’s legislative session. Politico reported that a male aide offered to give Gruters a ride home after an evening at a Tallahassee bar and that at some point Gruters allegedly sexually harassed the aide.
“The RPOF has a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of any kind,” the party said. “Any information or complaint RPOF receives regarding harassment toward its employees or members is taken very seriously and thoroughly reviewed in accordance with RPOF internal HR (human resources) policies and all applicable laws and regulations.”
The party said in its statement that the “RPOF was not involved in the investigation, did not direct the law firm or limit the law firm in any way whatsoever in its investigation.”
The Florida Senate in recent years has had high profile allegations of sexual misconduct against its members. Sen. Jack Latvala, a powerful Republican from Clearwater, resigned in late 2017 following a report that found evidence of sexual misconduct. Sen. Jeff Clemens, who was in line to become Senate Democratic leader, resigned in October 2017 after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.