In reaction to Friday’s announcement that Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) will not be resigning from the House, more than a dozen female state representatives, led by Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks), delivered a letter to Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) and Zabel on Monday renewing the call for his resignation.
The letter said, “Knowing Rep. Zabel will not be serving in the halls of the Capitol is the only way women who have had to deal with the grotesque and repeated conduct from this serial harasser will be able to feel safe.
“Women have spent generations breaking down barriers to hold positions of public trust and confidence, but the disgusting unwanted sexual advances by people like Rep. Zabel have continuously held women back or slowed the progress they have made. Too often, the behavior of such men and the silent complicity of others has, sadly, prevented others from even believing the truth. No one — man or woman, Democrat or Republican — should stand for this kind of behavior in 2023.”
In addition to the letter, Marcell noted the following: “What makes this situation even more intolerable is that House Democratic leadership, which has at times consisted of a number of different women, covered up these actions and remained silent on them until Rep. Zabel was finally caught. The timeline of how his identity was kept quiet — despite his identity being reported as ‘an open secret’ by the news media in the weeks preceding — is there for everyone to see.
“The speaker’s call for a vote to shut down the mention of Rep. Zabel’s name during the House rules vote is there for anyone to see. How can we allow Rep. Zabel to continue to hold the title and position of trust he abused — especially when he has yet to deny any of the accusations made against him? How can any party prioritize its political power and voting margin over women’s safety?”
A female SEIU leader has accused Zabel of caressing her leg, even after she told him to stop, at an event outside the Capitol. Additionally, his former campaign manager accused him of inappropriately touching her, and a female lawmaker shared that Zabel allegedly followed her to her car after she rejected his advances toward her.
Marcell said, “Not only do I and other female House colleagues I have spoken to feel unsafe, but every woman who enters this building is now at risk of unwanted touching, advances and comments from this individual.
“Now in addition to always having someone walk with me around outside of the Capitol complex for safety, I have to worry about a current male House member who is credibly alleged to have assaulted a female lobbyist. It is past time for Democrats to hold this person accountable and it is time for everyone who interacts with the Capitol building or lawmakers to stand together until this person is … held to account for their actions – to ensure women in the Capitol Complex are safe.”