Two dozen Democrats including state party chair join call for Sen. Daylin Leach to resign

Sens. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery.

The ranks of Democrats calling on embattled state Sen. Daylin Leach to resign grew on Friday to include the state party chair, who condemned what she called “abusive behavior” toward women.

Democratic Party Chair Nancy Patton Mills issued the statement jointly with Sen. Sharif Street, party vice chair and Leach’s frequent legislative partner, on Friday morning.

“Pennsylvanians deserve legislators who can support women in both policy and in practice,” they said in a statement. “Abusive behavior from anyone — Democrat or Republican — is unacceptable and has no place in Harrisburg.”

Mills and Street join more than two dozen other Democrats who are calling for Leach to step down following the release of information about a misconduct investigation into the Montgomery County senator.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said a “preliminary report” presented Wednesday by the law firm Eckert Seamans detailed a pattern of “irresponsible behavior” that “created an unprofessional and sexualized environment” for staff.

Costa called for Leach’s resignation Thursday after Leach posted a 26-page slideshow prepared by Eckert Seamans to his Senate Facebook page. Leach said the report “fully exonerated” him of any wrongdoing.

According to the summary document, the law firm found no “actionable” instances of sexual harassment. But investigators did identify “immature and unprofessional” behaviors that could lead to hostile work environment claims.

Leach accused Costa of covering up the report’s findings and threatening Leach with further investigations.

“This is the final report and Jay Costa knows it,” Leach said in a statement.

In his statement calling for Leach’s resignation, Costa called the information in the document Leach posted the result of a “preliminary report.” Costa’s spokesperson declined to respond to Leach’s specific allegations.

The mounting pressure on Leach is welcome, if not overdue, news for Colleen Kennedy.

Leach is suing Kennedy, as well as two other women, for defamation. Kennedy is a public supporter of Lehigh Valley resident Cara Taylor, who says Leach coerced her to perform oral sex when he was a young lawyer representing her mother in a criminal case.

Kennedy took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the state Democratic party for taking 18 months to call for Leach’s resignation.

Taylor’s allegation sparked the Senate Democrats’ investigation of Leach. Kennedy, Taylor, and a third woman — Gwen Snyder, a Philadelphia activist — are named in Leach’s defamation suit, which seeks at least $50,000 in punitive damages.

A lawyer representing Leach in the case could not be reached for comment Friday.

Michael Berry, a lawyer representing both Kennedy and Snyder, said in an emailed statement that Leach should end the suit.

“Mr. Leach says that he bears ‘no ill will towards anyone who came out against me,’ but he is suing two activists for vocally coming out against him,” Berry said. “If Mr. Leach truly has no ill will, he will drop his effort to stifle and punish their constitutionally protected speech.”

He added that document Leach posted, as Costa noted, “underscores that he created an unprofessional and sexualized environment.”

The senator is quickly losing the support within his party, where more than 29 state and federal elected officials have called on him to resign — including ten of his Senate colleagues.

Here’s a list of every official and organization asking for Leach’s resignation. It will be updated. (Last Updated at 11:39 a.m., June 8)

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