A Pennsylvania lobbyist is accusing state representative Mike Zabel of sexually harassing her

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A Pennsylvania lobbyist on Wednesday named a Democratic state representative who she says sexually harassed her four years ago, going public with his name hours after she and other lawmakers passed expanded workplace protections inspired in part by her story.

Andi Perez, a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union, issued a statement saying she was sexually harassed by state Rep. Mike Zabel of Delaware County and calling for his resignation.

Zabel, who is beginning his third term in the House, did not respond to several messages left seeking comment in the past few days. He was among those who voted Wednesday for new House rules with an expanded section on the handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Perez spoke about the issue but did not name Zabel at a Jan. 27 public hearing in Philadelphia held by a bipartisan committee considering rule changes. She said at that hearing that a state lawmaker had taken care of her leg while they were debating legislation outside the Capitol in 2019 and didn’t stop when she moved away from him.

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House rules at the time did not allow her to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee because only chamber staff, representatives and officials could make such complaints – not lobbyists.

House Democratic leadership issued a statement late Wednesday saying they were concerned about the allegations and were taking them seriously. The Ethics Committee’s expanded rules go into effect Thursday and will be able to deal with cases going back five years, as Perez is doing, Democratic leaders noted.

A Pennsylvania lobbyist accused state representative Mike Zabel of sexually harassing her for four years.

A Pennsylvania lobbyist accused state representative Mike Zabel of sexually harassing her for four years.

The Associated Press typically does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted or abused. Whether those who say they were subjected to other forms of sexual misconduct should be identified is decided on a case-by-case basis, and Perez has spoken publicly about it.

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Perez said he was “disgusted” that conservative news and opinion group Broad and Liberty singled out Zabel on Wednesday. In the statement she later issued, Perez said she would prefer to share more about her account at her own pace.

Since 2017, at least 120 state lawmakers in 41 states have faced public allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment, according to an Associated Press count. Of those, 47 have resigned or been expelled and 45 have faced other consequences, such as losing a committee chair or party leadership position. Most of these accusations were brought after the #MeToo movement spurred public accountability for people in power accused of sexual crimes.

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Pennsylvania House rules prohibit elected representatives and other House officials from engaging in discrimination or sexual harassment of any person while performing House duties, in House offices, on House property or at a House sponsored meeting or event. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature.

The vote Wednesday was on the entire House rules package that included items unrelated to the sexual harassment amendments, and passed on a party line vote.

“I am proud that sharing my story created real, substantial and systematic change in the Legislature to provide a path to justice for victims of harassment,” Perez said in her statement. She added that “some of the most important accountability measures strong against harassment in any legislative chamber across the country at the rules of the House.”

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