Executive Board

Halloran officially reprimanded for remarks

The Executive Board announced an official letter of reprimand of Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran April 3 for remarks made March 18 during floor debate on a bill regarding obscenity laws governing K-12 teachers and librarians.

During the debate, Halloran read from the bill’s committee hearing transcript, which included a passage from “Lucky,” a memoir by Alice Sebold that describes a graphic sexual assault that the author experienced. Halloran inserted the names “Senator Cavanaugh” and “Senator Dungan,” who were engaged in the debate, throughout his reading of the excerpt.

The Legislature launched an official investigation into the incident March 20 under its workplace harassment policy and appointed a special three-member personnel panel. The panel hired an outside law firm to investigate whether the actions taken by Halloran violated the Legislature’s workplace harassment policy or other employment discrimination law.

During announcement of the reprimand, Executive Board chairperson, Sen. Raymond Aguilar of Grand Island, said the law firm determined Halloran’s remarks would not meet the criteria for a hostile work environment claim under federal or state law, but were a violation of the Legislature’s harassment policy.

According to the report, Sen. Halloran’s conduct and comments were “inappropriate, unnecessary and could be interpreted as unfairly targeting a fellow member of the Legislature.” It went on to describe his conduct as “reprehensible” and that it could foster a hostile work environment.

Aguilar said the Executive Board met to review the report and voted 8-1 to approve an official letter of reprimand. The letter, which was read into the legislative record, indicated that those who signed it agree that Halloran’s conduct “should never be tolerated.”

“[We] formally deplore the unacceptable conduct of Sen. Halloran and find that his remarks were not only unbecoming of a member of the Nebraska Legislature and contrary to all senatorial traditions of decorum, but clearly violated the Nebraska Legislature’s workplace harassment policy.”

In comments on the floor following the announcement, Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh said she was disappointed with the handling of the investigation and the public announcement of its conclusions without prior notification to her or Sens. John Cavanaugh and George Dungan.

“You have failed me … you have failed all victims,” Cavanaugh said, adding that she intends to file a censure motion.

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