March 08, 2023
Pennsylvania lawmaker Mike Zabel, of Delaware County, is stepping down after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
The Democratic state representative submitted his letter of resignation Wednesday just hours after a fellow state lawmaker came forward about an incident that occurred in November. Last week, a union lobbyist accused Zabel of having sexually harassed her four years ago.
“The toll is just too great on my family, and was too detrimental to my well-being,” Zabel told The Associated Press shortly before submitting his resignation.
Rep. Abby Major, a second-term Republican representing Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, said that an intoxicated Zabel approached her at a “local establishment” in Harrisburg in November. He complimented her appearance, put his arm around her and asked her to "get out of here," Major said during a news conference Wednesday. Major’s account was first published anonymously last week on the conservative website Broad and Liberty.
Andi Perez, a lobbyist with the Service Employees International Union, accused Zabel of caressing her leg while they had a conversation about legislation outside the Capitol and continued to do so even when she tried moving away. Perez initially went public with the allegations during a January hearing, but did not name Zabel at the time. She put out a statement last week accusing him by name.
Last week, new rules were passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that expand who can file a sexual harassment complaint against lawmakers. As a lobbyist, Perez would not have been able to make an ethics complaint under the previous rules.
"It’s been 4yrs of roadblocks trying to hold the Rep who harassed me accountable," Perez tweeted. "While we will continue to call for Zabel’s resignation, I am proud my union pushed for a change so that no one has to feel helpless and there is a process for accountability."
Colleen Kennedy, who worked as Zabel's campaign manager in 2018, also came forward last week via a blog post accusing her former boss of acting inappropriately while intoxicated.
Although Zabel told Democratic House leaders on Friday that he would not resign, instead opting for inpatient treatment and leaving the Judiciary Committee, he changed course this week. His resignation will take effect March 16, leaving enough time for the slot to be filled during the May primary election. With his resignation, the Democrats still maintain a narrow majority.
Zabel, who graduated from Temple University's law school in 2010, was first elected in 2018. He is married.
He is also not the first state representative from Delco to be accused of sexual harassment in recent years.
In 2018, former Pennsylvania state Rep. Nick Miccarelli was accused by two women — a political consultant and fellow Republican state Rep. Tarah Toohill — of sexual and physical assaults in incidents occurring over six years. Miccarelli denied the allegations, but did not seek reelection.
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