A high-ranking Republican senator from northwest Ohio has abruptly resigned his seat, apologizing for "inappropriate behavior" he had with a state employee.
In a statement released on Wednesday morning, Hite said he was "not proud of recent inappropriate conversations" he had with a woman, who he says worked in a nearby state office.
"After we met, I sometimes asked her for hugs and talked with her in a way that was not appropriate for a married man, father, and grandfather like myself," Hite said. "Beyond those hugs, there was no inappropriate physical contact."
Senate president Larry Obhof said he accepted Hite's resignation late Monday, and it was effective immediately.
Cliff Hite, 63, is a former high school history teacher and football coach from Findlay who’s been in the Statehouse for a decade.
Just last month Hite said he planned to run for re-election in 2018, and was considered an important voice on agriculture and a supporter of wind energy, often breaking with the party on that issue.
Hite said he has been "seriously ill" over the past year and has been hospitalized for several days. He says he faces two surgeries in the coming month.
"The combination of my mistake in judgment and my failing health led me to decide to step down, so someone else can represent the good people of my district," Hite said.
Attempts to reach Hite for further comment were unsuccessful.
Obhof said a replacement process will be announced by the end of the week. Among those who could be appointed to replace Hite are state lawmakers Robert McColley, who recently dropped out of the race for House speaker; and freshman Rep. Craig Riedel.
Rep. Robert Sprague is also a possibility, but is now the party’s lone candidate for treasurer next year.