Dawn Roberts, the long-time Florida Senate staffer assigned to lead an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Jack Latvala, was once the staff director of a Senate committee Latvala chaired.
Roberts, now Senate general counsel, was assigned by Senate President Joe Negron to investigate allegations in a Politico report that six women complained of groping and unwanted physical contact or degrading remarks by Latvala, in the state Capitol in Tallahassee. The senator called the allegations “totally fabricated” and untrue.
The allegations by the women, described as lobbyists or staff members and not identified by name, were termed “atrocious and horrendous” in a statement by Negron Friday.
Roberts and Latvala know each other well. Roberts was the staff director of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee in the 2013-2014 cycle when Latvala was the committee chairman. Committee staff directors are appointed by the Senate president, often after consultation with committee chairmen.
That period was a busy time for the committee, which expanded early voting sites after Florida had the longest early voting lines in the country in the 2012 election, the result of a previous Legislature curtailing early voting hours.
Roberts has held a variety of high-level staff posts in the Senate in different administrations, and was acting Secretary of State for most of 2010, the last year of Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration, after Kurt Browning resigned.
Roberts returned to the Senate after the 2010 election, when Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ken Detzner as Secretary of State.
Roberts has significant expertise in election law. She’s a former director of the state Division of Elections who also has provided legal advice to the Senate on reapportionment legislation.
In his statement Friday, Negron said: “Ms. Roberts will work with our human resources professional staff in the Office of Legislative Services to ensure a full and fair investigation.”
Negron encouraged anyone with information about the Latvala allegations to confidentially come forward.