He had recently been working on legislation attempting to ease wind farm setback regulations.
State Sen. Cliff Hite, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, abruptly resigned from his northwest Ohio seat amid concerns of alleged improper conduct.
Colleagues said there was little warning that the Findlay Republican would step down. Hite did not return a message seeking comment.
“Sen. Hite submitted his resignation to me on Monday evening and I accepted it, effective immediately,” Senate President Larry Obhof said in a statement. He plans to announce a replacement process for the 1st Senate District by the end of the week.
GOP caucus officials declined to comment Tuesday on the speculation about why Hite, 63, resigned so suddenly. Obhof was scheduled to attend the non-voting Senate session early Tuesday afternoon, where reporters would be awaiting him, but backed out about an hour beforehand.
When the Dispatch caught up with Obhof later, he said he was not going to comment further at this time.
Both Obhof and Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, the majority floor leader, declined to comment when asked if Hite’s resignation is related to a sexual harassment complaint made by a Senate staff member or a Legislative Service Commission intern. “I defer to the president at this time,” Gardner said.
Obhof spokesman John Fortney also declined to comment when asked about the swirling allegations, saying only that he has no knowledge of a formal complaint being filed with the Senate clerk or the president’s office.
Hite’s resignation letter said, “I look forward to focusing on my personal health and spending more time with my family.” The letter was read into the record on Tuesday afternoon.
The Findlay Courier reported that Hite told the Findlay Kiwanis Club in mid-September that he planned to run for re-election in 2018, adding to the speculation that whatever occurred, it happened recently and was dealt with swiftly.
Hite, known for his coaching analogies and good-natured humor, served three terms in the Ohio House before he was appointed to the Senate in 2011. He was a former teacher and high school football coach who also played at the University of Kentucky. He had recently been working on legislation attempting to ease wind farm setback regulations.
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