COLUMBUS (WKBN) – Republican Sen. Cliff Hite resigned suddenly from the Ohio Senate this week. His resignation letter is dated Monday, October 16, and addressed to President of the Senate Larry Obhof.
In it, Hite admits to and apologizes for inappropriate conversations and behavior with a state employee. The 63-year-old said he would sometimes ask the woman for hugs and that the contact went no further.
Hite’s statement goes on to apologize for his actions and reads, “She deserves more respect than that and so does my wife.”
He added that this mistake and his failing health led to his resignation.
According to Hite, his health has been deteriorating and he has been hospitalized for several days over the past year. Further, he says next month he is scheduled for two surgeries.
Hite has been a senator for District 1 since 2011. Before that, he served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011.
Hite is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. His claim to fame is that he coached Ben Roethlisberger at Findlay High School.
Senate President Larry Obhof addressed the situation after Wednesday’s Senate session.
Obhof says he learned of the situation between Hite and the female state employee last Wednesday and immediately spoke to him about it. During that meeting, Obhof says he strongly suggested Hite resign for conduct unbecoming a Senator.
Obhof says they continued to have several meetings over the following days and eventually Hite did tender his resignation Monday afternoon.
According to Obhof, this situation has resulted in a new policy for all members of the Republican Caucus that kicks in at the start of the next general assembly, where they will go through Sexual Harassment training at the retreat they take near the beginning of the session.
In the meantime, Obhof says members and staff of both caucuses in the Senate will have similar training in the near future.
“I think that the message should be a pretty clear one; which is that any inappropriate activity in the senate isn’t tolerated,” Obhof said.
The seat vacated by Hite will be filled in the coming weeks. Obhof says the normal way they fill vacated seats will be used, and he expects the process to be completed within a month.