The state House Republican caucus has had its first look at what changes might be made to the chamber’s intern policy after the scandal involving its former House Speaker and a college intern.
Representative Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) heads up a panel looking at the state House’s policy regarding college interns after former House Speaker John Diehl, Junior admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with an intern and resigned at the end of the last session.
Engler says possible changes were outlined in a report to the closed-door summer caucus of House Republicans, last week.
“We’re going to have some electronic communications standards, restrictions, and protocols, and we’re going to have some personal responsibilities of actions that are unacceptable,” Engler told Missourinet. “We’re going to have a better ombudsman program, we’re going to have an orientation program that all the representatives and the interns will have to go through and sign off on, and a couple other details that we’re trying to do to make sure there’s some accountability without letting the pendulum swing too far the other way and making it so restrictive that nobody can ever come to the Capitol and do an internship.”
Engler thinks the policy regarding communication between interns and lawmakers should be very restrictive.
“It’s unacceptable in a business environment to be having personal comments on e-mails or texts, and I don’t think that’s anything that shouldn’t be at least adhered to in the professional setting of the legislature,” said Engler. “I think that the communication should be a business nature and a legislative nature and nothing of a personal nature.”
He said one recommendation is that a committee be formed to oversee interns who aren’t tied to a college.
“There are a lot of interns in the building that aren’t students, but for one reason or another they’re interning,” said Engler, “and members wanted to have the flexibility of using some of those interns, but we have to have some accountability measures.”
The report that was shown to the House Republican caucus is now being shown to House Democrats. He says it’s not being made public yet.
“We’re just getting feedback but I imagine some details will come out at some point,” said Engler.