A veteran Pennsylvania Democratic lawmaker who faced an allegation of sexual harassment that resulted in a secret settlement worth almost a quarter-million dollars in taxpayer money says he won’t seek reelection in November.
State Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone (D., Berks), a legislator since 1977, wrote in a letter to colleagues Friday that he’d been battling health issues and had decided it was time for “the next generation of leaders” to represent his district.
“I championed many legislative proposals during my tenure that made Pennsylvania a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” he wrote, citing billions of dollars in state funds he helped bring home to cities and towns like Reading, West Reading, and Kenhorst.
His decision, first reported by Pennsylvania Capital-Star, comes two years after The Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the House Democratic Caucus had spent $248,000 in 2015 to resolve a harassment complaint filed by a longtime legislative staffer. The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement, the newspapers reported.
The payout, authorized in February 2015, included $165,500 for the woman and $82,500 for her lawyer.
The staffer had threatened to file a lawsuit and a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and had initially asked for $1.5 million, The Inquirer and Post-Gazette reported.
Caltagirone, 77, defied calls for his resignation from Gov. Tom Wolf and others. “I have denied all accusations from day one,” he said in 2017. “I wanted my day in court, but counsel implored the parties to settle because of the high cost of litigating any complaint, legitimate or not.”
He was reelected easily in 2018.
Caltagirone had come under scrutiny for potential misconduct in the past. In the 1990s, a contract worker in his office alleged Caltagirone demanded she have sex with him to keep her job. The woman also said the lawmaker once chased her at gunpoint after she walked into a room and found him naked.
State prosecutors declined to bring charges, though a grand jury found there was “more than enough evidence” to prosecute. Caltagirone denied wrongdoing. The woman later returned to work for him.
“Many times, during my career, my political obituary was written but thanks to the people who know me best we survived and thrived together,” Caltagirone wrote in his letter Friday.