Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker resigned from the Washington State Senate on Friday, simultaneously issuing an apology to his accuser Ann Larson for the stress he caused her.
Kevin Ranker resigns “with a heavy heart”
In a letter written to Governor Jay Inslee on Friday, Kevin Ranker announced his immediate resignation from the Senate “with a heavy heart.”
Ranker’s decision follows weeks of speculation in Olympia about his future. In December news surfaced that an outside investigator had been appointed to pursue allegations made against him by his former aide Ann Larson.
According to Larson, the two had a consensual relationship (which Ranker has now acknowledged) shortly before Larson began working for the Senator. As Ranker’s employee, Larson decided to keep their relationship strictly professional. Following her decision, she claims Ranker created a “verbally abusive and hostile work environment.”
She also claimed that Ranker continued to harass her after she left his employment for the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Ranker steadfastly denied all allegations against him until Friday. Although he has not explained what exactly provoked his decision to resign, one possible explanation has been reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting. According to OPB, Investigator Tara Parker recently met with Ranker to let him “hear and react to some of the statements that were made by witnesses along the way.”
In a letter written to constituents, Ranker made a limited apology to his former employee, saying, “I am deeply sorry for any stress I caused her and I sincerely apologize. I wish her peace.”
Ann Larson: “more people will feel safe”
Larson first took the courageous step to come forward with allegations against Ranker in 2010. She spoke both to Senate officials and the head of Fish & Wildlife, but no action was taken at the time. Only in 2018, after she made it clear she was willing to take the story public, did the Senate appoint an outside investigator.
“I hope that by my actions, more people will feel safe to report any kind of inappropriate behavior without fear of retaliation,” Larson wrote in a response to the Associated Press.
Although Ranker’s resignation came just before the Washington Legislature convenes today, his sphere of influence in the Senate has been shrinking since the allegations first surfaced.
Senate leaders recently announced he would not serve as chairman of the new Environment and Tourism Committee, and that he had stepped down as vice-chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Washington State Democratic leaders have committed to replacing Ranker as soon as possible. Ranker is the fourth member of the Washington State Legislature to resign or lose an election following #MeToo allegations.
UPDATE: February 1st, 2019
A ten page report by outside investigator Tara Parker was published in the Washington State Senate on Friday, February 1st. According to the Associated Press, the report upheld Ann Larson’s allegations that Kevin Ranker had sexually harassed her and created a hostile working environment.
According to Secretary of the Senate Brad Hendrickson no disciplinary action will be taken, because of Ranker’s resignation.