Sec. of State announces will not seek reelection in 2019 amid sexual harassment scandal

(WAFB) - Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, at the center of a sexual harassment scandal, announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2019. Schedler's current term ends on January 13, 2020.

Schedler made this announcement during a press conference Wednesday. He says after taking a couple of weeks of personal time with his family, he's made the decision to not run for office again next year. He also says he plans to fight the allegations against him.

Schedler also says his first inclination was to walk away from his position to protect his family, but that his family is behind him and supportive.

"Leaving would be cowardly, and Tom Schedler is not a coward," he said.

"The truth lies somewhere in the middle," he said referring to the allegations against him.

Schedler says he does not want to leave his office in chaos by stepping down from his position immediately.

"We are at a critical crossroads," he said.

Schedler says going forward, he's committed to two things only, his family and loved ones, and himself, as well as the people of Louisiana, who he serves, and his staff.

"I'm sorry to my family, to this staff, and all loved ones who I've loved and still love, for how disappointing this is, even with the allegations. There's some truth to the middle. I'm gonna' leave God to judge me and let him guide me for what my future might be with the job I have in front of me," he said.

It has been nearly two weeks since Governor John Bel Edwards called for Schedler's resignation. Several other politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have also called for Schedler to step down. Edwards released a statement on Schedler's announcement Wednesday afternoon. The statement reads:

The governor stands by his opinion that the Secretary of State should step down immediately. The number of specific allegations outlined in the lawsuit and the fact that the Secretary of State has admitted to conduct that by definition is sexual harassment is very concerning and will only serve as a distraction for the remainder of his term while this issue is litigated.

Since then, Schedler has been on an extended vacation, considering his next move, after an office employee sued him for sexual harassment. A spokeswoman for the office says Schedler has been checking in with staff by phone to make sure upcoming elections and early voting go as planned.

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