The Republican Senator from Clearwater submitted a letter of resignation to Senate President Joe Negron on Wednesday.
Relatively obscured by the attention that allegations against former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore received, Florida has been dealing with a similar situation with a man who wants to be the state's next governor.
He claimed that his enemies have latched on to the #MeToo movement "to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me". I have maintained that the charges in the original complaint are fabrications and say that still today.
Latvala has acknowledged making comments intended as compliments that women might find offensive, but he denies in a sworn statement to the retired judge any unwanted or inappropriate touching of women and Rogers specific allegations. The letter, obtained by the Miami Herald, says, "I have had enough".
The special master's report, delivered to the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday by retired Judge Ronald V. Swanson, concluded there is probable cause to launch an investigation and hearing by the Senate Rules Committee to determine if Latvalais guilty of violating Senate conduct rules and should be sanctioned or removed from office. "If this is the process our Party and Senate leadership desires, then I have no interest in continuing to serve with you".
In August, Latvala announced his intent to run for Governor in 2018, but as the allegations have come out has been more focused on simply keeping his seat in the Senate. "Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state", Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
Latvala has said he has been known to tell some women they look "hot" but that he's never touched anyone against their will.
Swanson investigated a formal complaint by Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson. He said he would not comment further. The report also recommends a criminal investigation into whether Latvala exchanged his vote for sexual favors. The report said the allegations were backed up by text messages that were not included in the document. Now the Florida Legislature should make the right decision to root out other misconduct and regain some of its credibility and public trust.