HARRISBURG — Democratic State Sen. Daylin Leach, who has faced calls to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct, now has a colleague from his own county pushing to expel him from office.
Newly elected Sen. Katie Muth (D., Montgomery) on Wednesday circulated a letter to members of the Senate Ethics Committee asking for Leach’s expulsion, contending that he has used his office to intimidate women who have accused him of sexual harassment or assault.
“His behavior is disturbing and unacceptable from a sitting elected official,” wrote Muth, who has spoken about her experience as a rape survivor and has in the past called on Leach to resign. “We must demand better of those we trust to act on behalf of this body as a voice for the people of Pennsylvania. That voice is loud and clear: This culture of rape ... intimidation, and reprehensible behavior must end.”
Senate officials called her request rare, if not unprecedented. They said they could not recall another Pennsylvania lawmaker taking steps to expel a colleague, which would require approval of two-thirds of the 50 senators.
Leach declined to comment. His spokesperson, Frank Keel, dismissed Muth’s effort as “nothing more than a self-serving publicity stunt.”
Leach has faced controversy since the Inquirer reported in late 2017 that he had engaged in questionable behavior with young female staffers and volunteers — ranging from highly sexualized jokes and comments to what they considered inappropriate touching.
This month, Senate Democrats hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations by Cara Taylor, an Allentown-area woman, who has accused Leach of luring her into performing oral sex in 1991, when she was a teenager and he was a lawyer defending her mother in a criminal case.
Leach has repeatedly denied Taylor’s allegation. On Monday, he sued Taylor, along with two Philadelphia-area #MeToo activists, claiming they defamed him by peddling what he called the “fictional 1991 encounter.”
The lawsuit drew fresh calls for his resignation from some fellow Democrats, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who presides over the Senate, and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Leach responded in a statement saying, "I suppose the easy, knee-jerk reaction for the lieutenant governor and others is to pander to the #MeToo movement.... But I won’t be quiet while three women falsely accuse me in an attempt to destroy my career and my family.”
Reached Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, a Democrat from Allegheny County, declined to comment on Muth’s request for expulsion.
“It may end up before us, so therefore I’ve got no comment on it,” he said. He added: “The Senate’s members will serve as jury and judge and, as a result, it’s not appropriate” to discuss the matter.
The Ethics Committee, with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, operates in near-complete secrecy. Its meetings are closed and it does not publicly discuss complaints. Only in rare cases are some details released.
After it has reviewed and investigated a complaint, such as the one lodged by Muth, the committee can make public recommendations to the full Senate, officials said.
Last summer, Leach became upset when Muth declined to appear at an event with him. At the time, Muth was running a long-shot campaign against John Rafferty, a Republican senator for 15 years.