Nate Boulton

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds today said Democrats have “an obligation to act” now that a state senator accused of sexual misconduct has refused to resign.

Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, dropped out of the race for governor shortly after The Des Moines Register published accusations from three women who say Boulton groped them. Earlier this week, Boulton announced he will not resign from the state senate despite calls from several of his Democratic colleagues to do so.

Governor Reynolds said it’s now up to Boulton’s fellow Democrats to address the situation.

“They were pretty adamant in what they thought should take place when they were talking about other issues of sexual harassment,” Reynolds told reporters late this morning after an event in Winterset

Democrats criticized how Republicans handled the sexual harassment complaint of a Senate GOP employee who eventually won a sizable settlement from the state.

“I think they have an obligation to act,” Reynolds said of Senate Democrats.

Brenna Smith, a spokesperson for Reynolds, said the governor believes “it’s up to Senate Democrats what they want to do about it — whether they want to start an investigation, take away his committee assignments or take any other action.”

The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee can recommend expulsion from the senate, but the senate’s code of conduct covers a lawmaker’s actions while in office. Boulton’s alleged transgressions happened before he was a senator.

If the Ethics Committee received a complaint about Boulton’s conduct since January of 2017, found it credible, launched an investigation and then called for Boulton to be removed from office, the full senate would have to vote on the matter. Under that scenario, a senate vote would have to take place in a special session later this year or after the 2019 legislative session starts in January.

(This posted was updated after the governor’s spokeswoman issued a clarification at 8:41 p.m.)