Lawmakers unanimously approved a contract today to hire attorneys to represent a state agency in a pair of sexual harassment lawsuits. The Government Contract Review Committee approved a $115,000 contract to hire the Lexington-based firm Landrum and Shouse to represent the Legislative Research Commission in a pair of lawsuits brought by female staffers, who’ve alleged that the LRC did little to address their complaints against former lawmaker John Arnold and Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, a member of the panel, questioned why taxpayers should pay for the individual actions of a few.“If what is alleged is true, it’s clearly outside of any scope of legislative duty, and it’s clearly outside of any ethical perimeters," McDaniel said. "And the taxpayer just shouldn’t be paying for that.”Arnold, of Strugis, was accused by LRC employees Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper of allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting them for several years. A third woman, LRC employee Nicole Cusic, has accused Coursey, D-Symsonia, and former LRC executive director Bobby Sherman of retaliating against her when Cusic, then Coursey's secretary, complained to LRC supervisors of Coursey's alleged forging of inappropriate relationships with a female intern.All three women filed their suits in Franklin Circuit Court on Oct. 1. Both Arnold and Coursey deny the allegations. Sherman retired in September.Attorneys for Landrum and Shouse will be paid $125 per hour, and their contract will run through June 30, 2014.