The Lead

Embattled state Sen. Leach absent from scheduled Rotunda appearance on day he rolls out legal cannabis bill

By: - March 18, 2019 11:57 am

Sen. Daylin Leach. (State photo)

(*This article was updated with additional details from Leach’s office about the event cancellation. The headline to this story has been updated to reflect that.)

Two days after fellow Democrats called on him to resign, and on the same day he unveiled a bold policy proposalstate Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, was absent from a scheduled appearance in the state Capitol.

Leach, who is currently suing a woman who accused him of sexual assault, was scheduled to hold a rally in the state Capitol rotunda at 10:30 a.m. on Monday to promote a bill he is co-sponsoring with Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, to end Pennsylvania’s prohibition on recreational cannabis.

The event was advertised in a daily events email sent out Monday morning by a senior House Democratic staffer.

Street appeared in the rotunda Monday morning to speak to reporters. But when Leach hadn’t appeared by 10:45, a spokesman confirmed that the advertised rally was not taking place.

Spokesman Zakary Pyzik said that Leach’s office decided to reschedule the event for June, but neglected to cancel the rotunda reservation with the Department of General Services before Monday.

Pyzik said the decision to postpone the event had nothing to do with a letter, sent to Leach by Montgomery County Democrats this weekend, calling on Leach to resign.

Rather, the office decided well in advance of this weekend that postponing the event would allow Leach to join forces with more cannabis groups, Pyzik said.

Some pro-cannabis groups, including Philadelphia NORML, were in the Capitol on Monday for a scheduled lobbying blitz.

Leach has been a vocal advocate for marijuana legalization during his time in office. On Monday, he and Street released the memo announcing their bill and asking their colleagues for support.

This morning, Street said he was confident that the allegations against Leach, and the calls on him to resign, would not derail the marijuana legalization effort.

“This movement is not defined by a single senator,” Street said.

On Saturday, 38 Democrats, including state and county party officials, row officers and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, signed a letter telling Leach his response to allegations of sexual misconduct and assault disqualified him from holding office.

“Without exaggeration Party members have described your lashing out, lack of judgment, and tone-deafness as examples of behavior not becoming a state senator and leader of our Party,” the letter reads.

In a response letter, Leach portrayed himself as a progressive champion and “happy warrior” beset by false accusations. He said he was being denied due process rights and would not resign.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in Dec. 2017 that female staffers accused Leach of inappropriate touching and gratuitous sexual talk at work.

Senate Democrats are currently investigating another woman’s allegation that Leach coerced her to perform oral sex on him in 1991, when she was a teenager and he was a 30-year old attorney.

Leach is suing for defamation that accuser, Cara Taylor, and two women who shared her story online.

Senate officials said last week that the lawsuit would not curtail their private investigation of Taylor’s allegation.

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.