In the administration of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, it is apparently okay for a cabinet official to sexually harass his female employees...as long as the publicity doesn't get too far out of hand.
The governor finally cut his losses and fired Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell today. The following news release was issued:
JEFFERSON CITY–Gov. Matt Blunt today requested the resignation of Fred Ferrell. Ferrell resigned his position as Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture effective immediately.
"When I first learned of this inappropriate behavior, I believed that through an apology, discipline, significant sensitivity training and a fine, it might be possible for the Director to continue in his position. Prior to this week, it was the general belief that the issues involving the Missouri Agriculture Director were being resolved in a manner consistent with the goals of all parties involved with these very disappointing events. It has now become apparent that he can no longer lead the department effectively and I have today asked for and accepted his resignation," said Blunt.
The governor accepted Ferrell’s resignation and announced that Deputy Director Matt Boatright will serve as Interim Director. A search for a new director will begin immediately
As noted earlier today in The Turner Report, the agriculture director was under pressure from female legislators who obtained a controversial Highway Patrol report compiled months earlier at the governor's request, which left no doubt that Ferrell was not treating the females in his employ with any respect.
The female legislators issued the following statement:
"We find it incomprehensible that you decided to reinstate a Departmental Director who refers to his secretary as a "show dog," who stated that he hires women "based on their pretty face, not what is in their minds," who wanted to arrange a "wet t-shirt contest" for his women employees, and who told male employees in the Department that "a woman could not be in a position of management above other men." It is therefore incumbent on you to come forward now and justify your action empowering this sort of predatory sexual behavior, as well as your decision to commit tens of thousands of state taxpayers' dollars in an attempt to keep those same taxpayers from learning the truth about what you knew this behavior to be."
It appears that the unfavorable publicity, not the lack of respect for human beings, is what ultimately cost Fred Ferrell his job. The Ferrell case seems to send the message that any sin is forgivable in the Blunt administration, except for embarrassing the governor.