EDITORIAL: Leach should withdraw, but not resign, yet

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State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17).

We live in a time of reckoning for men (and some women) who have refused to see the appropriate boundaries of personal and professional behavior — and now state Sen. (and would-be Congresman) Daylin Leach (D-17) has been implicated in a deeply reported, multi-sourced story in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

The allegations — from 11 people — range from inappropriate touching to creating a hostile work environment through off-color or overly sexualized comments to female staffers. We’ll note that Leach denies the charges and attributes the allegations to the work of a rival campaign in the Democratic primary for the 7th District.

But many, including Gov. Tom Wolf, have called not only for Leach’s withdrawal from the primary, but his resignation from the state Senate.

We think that may be a step too far and a rush to judgment.

We agree that Leach should at minimum, suspend his Congressional race — for a U.S. House district that runs through the heart of Chester County.

There are too many accusations from too many sources to just dismiss this as a political dirty trick. We were aware of the coming story on Leach (and we are aware of other legislators currently the subject of ongoing media investigation) and began checking with our sources to see whether there were grounds for concern. We feel that there are and that more investigation is needed.

From a politics standpoint, it would also seem that Leach is too seriously wounded — despite his gifts as a fundraiser — to win the May, 2018 primary, let alone a general election against an exceptionally well-funded incumbent such as Patrick Meehan. For the sake of his party and the issues he espouses support for, sometimes crudely, Leach should accept the political reality of the moment.

At this moment, Dan Muroff and Molly Sheehan have shown the ability to raise enough money to be competitive (obviously, we’re fans of Chester County favorite Elizabeth Moro but remain deeply concerned about her lackluster fundraising) in the 7th — but Leach’s continued presence in the race will be a distraction from the more pressing issues voters seem to be looking at.

However, we also believe firmly in due process, which is why we do not call for his immediate resignation from the state Senate.

Leach deserves a full hearing and vetting by his colleagues to determine what actually happened.

We have long been concerned about Leach’s ability to mount a race against Meehan, due to his uncensored and at times, inappropriate, public comments. If his private conduct has been worse, he doesn’t belong in a Congressional primary.

At the same time, he has been an effective legislator — and his career shouldn’t be ended until all of the facts are clear.

To be sure, these are challenging times. While we must send a message that the powerful cannot be allowed to abuse their positions through sexual misconduct, we must take care to not rush to judgement and let the facts drive our actions.

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