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Calls grow for State Rep. Fabian Basabe to resign amidst sexual allegations

Calls grow for State Rep. Fabian Basabe to resign amidst sexual allegations
Calls grow for State Rep. Fabian Basabe to resign amidst sexual allegations 02:59

MIAMI - It's Leadership Blue weekend in Miami Beach, so many state democrats are in town. Coincidental timing, as Republican State Rep. Fabian Basabe represents Miami Beach in Tallahassee.  

CBS News Miami spoke with Democratic leaders who did not mince words when discussing the allegations surrounding Basabe.

"If you look at the services he's been providing and all these distractions he's causing, he probably should step down," shared House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell.

She calls the claims listed in the lawsuit "alarming."  

A former intern and a legislative aide for the Republican State Representative accuse him of making unwanted sexual advances on them.

CBS News Miami's Joe Gorchow spoke with Rep. Basabe over the phone Friday to discuss the Democrat response and allegations.  He previously denied the claims in the lawsuit through his attorney and when speaking exclusively with CBS News Miami's Jim DeFede.

Basabe respectfully declined to discuss the case or others' comments further with Gorchow, referring him to his legal team for any additional remarks.  

In a statement from his attorney Robert H. Fernandez, Esq. RHF Law Firm, LLC:

"We are currently reviewing the complaint that was just filed.  Representative Basabe will not be litigating this frivolous and meritless lawsuit in the media or giving it any more public attention than it deserves---which is none.  Representative Basabe looks forward to defending himself in court and we believe he will be fully vindicated once these allegations are scrutinized under the rule of law.  In the meantime, Representative Basabe will continue to focus on the issues important to the citizens of Florida."

Basabe told Gorchow over the phone on Friday he will continue working hard to serve his district and its people.

"If your constituents don't trust you, what good can you be to the people you're representing," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried.

She called the allegations in the complaint "vile."  And believes House leadership in Tallahassee should have done more sooner.

"This is an all-out totally dropping of the ball in protecting individuals in the process and holding people to higher regard," said Fried. "Leadership, at the very minimum, should have separated the staffer from the elected official."

"This is another distraction," said Driskell. "The people don't need that. In South Florida, rent prices are escalating. We should be focusing on these real issues that impact people, not this circus sideshow."

Also, on Friday morning, CBS News Miami called, texted, and emailed multiple South Florida Republican state senators, representatives, and local RNC leaders to discuss the claims.  

The responses ranged from none to "no comment" to reserving judgment and comment until the Florida House investigation into the allegations has been completed.

CBS News Miami spoke with House Speaker Paul Renner's office on Friday, reiterating Thursday's statement that they "will investigate the matter promptly."  The office's communications team told us there's an "urgency to reach a resolution" and that they "appreciate the individuals that came forward to report" the complaint against Basabe.

CBS News Miami also inquired about the potential punishment for Basabe if the allegations were proven to be true.  They declined to answer, pointing us instead to Florida House rules.

Under Section 15.9: Penalties for Violations:

"Any member determined to have violated the requirements of these rules relating to ethics or member conduct shall be fined, censured, reprimanded, placed on probation, or expelled or have such other lesser penalty imposed as may be appropriate."

"If you look at the services he's been providing and all these distractions that he's causing, he probably should step down," added Driskell.

Equality Florida, a statewide civil rights organization, wants Basabe to step down.

"The people of the district deserve that they deserve someone who's gonna go to Tallahassee and be serious about the work," shared Brandon Wolf, Press Secretary for Equality Florida.  "Be serious about the issues and get things done.  Not someone who's constantly embroiled in chaos and controversy or someone who clearly doesn't have an interest in doing the job that they've been elected to do."

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