SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A former legislative staffer accused state Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, of inappropriate behavior and said her “boss” at the state Capitol told her to “get over it.”
Elizabeth Converse made the claim in a Facebook post, but said the incidents happened several years ago and were well known in Democratic circles.
She said Davis asked her to dinner, asked her if she liked red wine (correction from video story, which said he asked her favorite wine), and if she liked the way dark chocolate “melted in (the) mouth.”
She also said Davis put his arm around her in an airport during a legislative trip, “pulled me close to him,” and said, ‘I hear you like body shots. Ya know, I’ve got a bottle of tequila at home.’"
In response, Davis released this statement on Thursday:
Sexual harassment has no place in any political, professional, nor personal setting,” he said. “Each person deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Converse for any injury she felt as a staff member. It was never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”
Davis is one of the longest serving members of the Legislature, with a political career in the House and the Senate spanning more than several decades. At one time he was Senate Minority Leader.
Converse is also among a group of women who made allegations of inappropriate behavior against former Democratic Party official Rob Miller, who has consistently denied the accusations, most recently in an exclusive interview with 2News.
Converse said her Capitol boss, a prominent Democratic lawmaker, “kept pushing me to meet with Senator Davis,” at one point telling her "just go to dinner and then it would be done."
A call and text sent to that lawmaker were not returned Thursday.
Converse said she sought help from former House Speaker Greg Hughes and his chief of staff Greg Hartley.
“Wanna know what the R’s (Republicans) did?” Converse said. “Everything they could to protect me. They are the ones who started the process to set up a system that protects the employees of the Legislature.”
Nadia Mahallati, a Democrat who does not speak for the party, called Converse a friend and said she can relate to seeking help from Republicans over harassment allegations.
“Why did you decide to reach out to a Republican, rather than someone in the (Democratic) party?“ 2News asked Mahallati.
“I didn’t feel like there was support within my own party, and I felt that many times throughout the last four years,” she replied.
Democratic Party officials declined our request for an on camera interview, but spokesman Joshua Rush provided a statement.
Utah Democrats remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting victims of harassment within our party,” he said. “Our internal anti-harassment policy is robust and offers avenues for due process for these types of claims, as do the Legislature’s own policies.”