A Latina Aide Is Accusing Ohio Representatives Of Making Racist And Sexually Suggestive Remarks

credit: Ohio House of Representatives

An Ohio legislative aide is alleging that three state representatives made racist and sexist remarks to her and her colleagues.

On Sunday, Marisa Reyes, a former aide to Republican lawmaker Scott Wiggam, wrote an open letter to Democratic Rep. Kristen Boggs about her one-time boss’s purported behavior.

According to Reyes, who appears to be Columbus-rooted and Mexican American based on her Twitter profile, Wiggam referred to women as irrational.

“During my time as a staffer in this office, I had to endure months of unacceptable treatment and was forced to listen to the Representative’s opinions that painted myself, my family and other Hispanics in a demeaning light,” Reyes wrote in the letter. “When I respectfully disagreed with the Representative about an issue, I was told that ‘women do not think logically, they think with their hearts, not with their brains.’”

The representative allegedly also made comments about her ethnic background, purportedly calling Reyes “the good type of Mexican” after sharing with him her parents’ immigration story.

According to Reyes’ letter, he’s not the only male lawmaker who has slighted female employees.  At a office holiday party, Reyes says Rep. Wes Retherford threatened women staffers and made sexually suggestive remarks.

“He caused a scene by screaming and threatening myself and other female house aides not to discuss events from that night and remarked to me at a different point that he would ‘prefer to see me with my dress off,’” said Reyes.

Reyes posted the open letter on Twitter a day before the House voted on its next speaker. She hoped it would urge Democrats like Boggs to not support Rep. Larry Householder, who the men she claims made the racist and sexist remarks had backed.

“I have suffered degrading comments and harassment by the very people that the Democratic caucus may choose to empower on January 7th, 2019,” she wrote. “I urge you not [to] support a leadership team that promises to solve problems that they themselves are perpetuating.”

Householder, who wasn’t accused of any misconduct by Reyes, was re-elected Ohio House speaker on Monday.

Wiggam has denied the allegations made against him, telling Newsweek in a statement that Reyes’ accusations were politically motivated.

“Although the former leadership team may have known about these allegations, yesterday’s letter was the first time this was brought to my attention. The allegations made against me are absolutely false,” the statement read. “I believe that the allegations were politically motivated and coordinated by the outgoing leadership team. I am seeking House legal counsel and I call for a full investigation to clear my name.”

Reports from Latinas challenging powerful leaders in the workplace have become more prominent. Recently, an undocumented housekeeper at President Trump’s New Jersey golf club spoke out against mistreatment by management and hurt over the big boss’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies in the White House.

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