Democrats express outrage over how Governor Blunt handled the Fred Ferrell case and say questions linger even after the Agriculture Director’s resignation.
Democrats are harshly critical of Governor Blunt, saying he should have fired State Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell nine months ago after the State Highway Patrol reported on its investigation of sexual harassment charges leveled against him. Ferrell resigned at Blunt’s request on Monday after the sexual harassment complaint made by former Agriculture Department employee, Heather Elder, became public.
House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) says he has read that report and, as a man, was outraged by its contents. Harris says he would not let his wife work for someone like Director Ferrell. Elder has accused Ferrell of making sexually suggestive comments and blocking her promotion, because she’s a woman. She was offered a monetary settlement to drop all claims against the state.
Sen. Joan Bray (D-St. Louis) agrees Elder, who has been without a job for months, is owed something by the state, but quickly adds that Elder shouldn’t have to stay silent to get it. Democrats say the main questions that remain are why Ferrell wasn’t fired earlier and how much was Elder offered to settle the case privately. Elder is in litigation with the state. Court documents indicate the Agriculture Department agreed to pay her $70,000 plus attorney’s fees to settle the case privately. She has refused the money.