HARRISBURG — More than a dozen activists flooded state House leadership offices in the Capitol Tuesday to call for the expulsion of state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, the Delaware County Republican who is accused of sexual and physical assault.
Carrying signs and posters evoking the national "Time's Up" and "MeToo" movements, about 17 activists also demanded the Legislature take up several bills designed to change how sexual harassment is handled in the Capitol.
"We'd really like to see a major cultural shift here," Jane Palmer, a Wyomissing resident and activist with Berks County-based Indivisible Berks, said in the lobby of Majority Leader Dave Reed's office.
The activists did not speak directly with Reed or House Speaker Mike Turzai, whose offices they visited.
A spokesman for the House Republicans, Steve Miskin, met with the group but would not say whether lawmakers are considering expulsion. He said the House investigation into the allegations against Miccarelli needs to be concluded first.
Miccarelli is accused of abusive conduct in past relationships, including one with state Rep. Tarah Toohil, a Luzerne County Republican who received a protection-from-abuse order against Miccarelli last week.
A hearing is scheduled in Luzerne County Thursday to determine whether to extend the PFA from temporary to permanent. House lawyers are finalizing their investigation into Miccarelli, and the Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo is also conducting a probe.
Miccarelli has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Republican House leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf have asked him to step down. If Miccarelli doesn’t resign, lawmakers are left with the option of expelling him from his seat — something the Legislature has not done since former Rep. Leonard Sweeney was expelled in 1975, after he was convicted of mail fraud.
Expelling Miccarelli would require a resolution be passed in committee and approved by two-thirds of the 203-member House.
Palmer and the others, many of whom are weekly participants in protests outside U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's office, called specifically for the passing of a "#MeToo Act."
Sponsored by Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, a Democrat whose suburban Philadelphia district neighbors Miccarelli's district, the bill would create an independent Office of Compliance for harassment complaints.
It would also require an independent investigator to follow up on any complaint made by a Capitol staffer, ban nondisclosure agreements that shield the name of legislators, prohibit the use of taxpayer money for settlements and more.
Miskin said House Republicans are also working on legislation dealing with "sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace."
"You will end up liking what you end up seeing," he told the activists.