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Former Kentucky speaker hospitalized following resignation

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By ADAM BEAM
Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's former Republican House speaker has been hospitalized days after resigning his leadership position amid sexual harassment allegations.

A statement from a family member Friday morning said Jeff Hoover had a heart-related issue and asked for privacy.

Hoover, 57, acknowledged on Sunday that he was one of four lawmakers who settled a sexual harassment allegation outside of court with a member of the House Republican Caucus' staff. Hoover denied the harassment allegation. He said he sent inappropriate but consensual text messages.

While Hoover resigned his leadership position, he remains in the Legislature. House GOP leaders have hired a Louisville law firm to investigate the matter. They expect a preliminary report in 10 days.

Hoover was elected speaker in January, the first Republican to have the job in nearly 100 years. He has been in the legislature for 20 years.

Hoover's father, Welby Hoover, died in 1986 shortly after being elected to the House of Representatives. Welby Hoover died before he could take office. Hoover's mother, Mae Hoover, won the special election to replace her husband in the legislature and served one term.

Last year, Hoover told The Associated Press that he had been diagnosed with diabetes like his father.

"It is something I am concerned about, something I try to watch," Hoover said at the time.

The scandal has complicated Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's effort to pass major changes to the state's pension system, which is among the worst funded in the country. And it has resulted in the replacement of three legislative chairmen who were also part of the sexual harassment settlement.

Friday, House Republican leaders announced they had appointed Rep. Jerry Miller to replace Rep. Brian Linder as chairman of the Public Pension Oversight Board. Linder was one of four lawmakers involved in the sexual harassment settlement. House leaders say two other chairmen have been replaced by vice chairmen, but they did not name them.

The other two lawmakers involved in the settlement are Reps. Jim DeCesare and Michael Meredith. Both are committee chairmen. Rep. Phillip Pratt would be in line to replace DeCesare as chairman of the Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee while Rep. Rob Rothenburger would replace Meredith as chairman of the Local Government Committee.

Linder has apologized publicly to his family and voters. DeCesare told WBKO that he would not comment, but added "I can say I've done nothing to be ashamed of, and welcome the independent investigation and its findings."

Meredith has not made any public statements.

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