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Senate Republicans want Manendo off committees amid sex harassment allegations

CARSON CITY — Senate Republicans on Tuesday called for “full transparency” and immediate, preventive measures due to the recent sexual harassment allegations against a Las Vegas Democrat.

Senate Republicans said in a statement that multiple reports of harassment made against Sen. Mark Manendo have spanned decades, including claims in 2003, 2009 and now, 2017.

The caucus is calling on Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, to release any and all complaints made against Manendo (with the names of the alleged victims redacted); immediately remove Manendo from his committee assignments; and begin full Senate hearings to investigate the allegations.

“For decades, allegations against Sen. Manendo have been made and have been swept under the rug by those in charge,” said Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.

“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno. “Sen. Ford should immediately remove Sen. Manendo as chairman of Transportation and as a member of Government Affairs and Natural Resources.”

Peter Koltak, ‎executive director with the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus, said in a statement that far too often, women choose not to come forward with allegations of harassment because they fear being subjected to public humiliation just for speaking up.

“That is precisely why this investigation is the hands of independent investigator who can ensure that a thorough, fair investigation takes place,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that Republican leadership has been blinded by partisanship and is treating this situation as a political opportunity rather than the serious matter that it is.”

Under Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution, the Senate may “consider the character” and “alleged misconduct” of a member, and if misconduct is determined, expel the member with a two-thirds vote.

Ford said Saturday he had appointed an outside investigator to review recent accusations of sexual harassment against Manendo, but did not elaborate. No date has been given for when an investigation may be completed.

The complaints are believed to be from lobbyists.

Manendo’s response

On Monday, Manendo said he hired an attorney as the Nevada Senate investigates allegations of sexual harassment against him.

“I take this very serious,” he said. “That is why I have retained an attorney. So I am referring all comments to attorney Richard Wright.”

“He has not been told the specifics of the allegations,” Wright said said in a statement, adding that the senator will cooperate with the investigator.

“We remain confident that he will ultimately be exonerated,” Wright said.

Manendo lost a chairmanship in the Assembly following the 2003 legislative session after being accused of sexual harassment. In 2010, some Democrats had sought to push for a new harassment allegation, which Manendo denied.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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