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Sen. Boulton To Ethics Committee: Dismiss Sexual Harassment Complaint

nate boulton
John Pemble/IPR file
Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines

State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to dismiss a sexual harassment complaint against him because the alleged incident happened before he was in office.

His response to the complaint, submitted Monday by his attorney Paige Fiedler, also states some of the allegations “do not ring true.”

Sharon Wegner filed a complaint with the ethics committee last month alleging that in 2015, when Boulton was running for Senate, he followed her around at a bar and repeatedly placed his hand on her butt. Earlier this year, Wegner and two other women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations, causing Boulton to drop out of the Democratic primary election for governor.

Boulton’s response says he has no memory of what Wegner described, but says he has struggled with alcohol in the past and can’t say with absolute certainty that he never touched Wegner that night.

Wegner’s complaint includes an affidavit from her friend, who says she saw Boulton put his hand on Wenger’s butt. Boulton says his wife, who was present that night, also does not recall this happening.

Wegner also wrote in her complaint she didn’t say anything about this in 2015 because she was afraid of professional repercussions. She and Boulton are both attorneys in Des Moines.

“Sen. Boulton, although not a senator at the time, was someone who I perceived to have a great deal of power both within the community and within my profession,” Wegner wrote. She also said she didn’t feel safe on the night he was allegedly harassing her.

Boulton’s response says interactions between him and Wegner before and after that night in 2015 “seem inconsistent with the aggressive assaults she claims to have endured on that date.”

An affidavit from one of Boulton’s coworkers and law school classmate of Wegner’s alleges Wegner was “overly flirtatious” with Boulton at an event about a month before he allegedly harassed her.

Boulton also provided the committee with emails showing Wegner reached out to him for professional advice after the alleged incident.

The Senate Ethics Committee will schedule a meeting to discuss whether it will move forward with investigating the complaint or dismiss it.

Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen said she will defer assigning Boulton to any legislative committees until the ethics committee completes its investigation. She has previously called on him to resign.

Read Sharon Wegner's complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee here.

Read Sen. Boulton's response here

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter