On March 18, 2019, Rep. Brian Ellis (R) resigned his seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Ellis, who represented Pennsylvania’s 11th state House district, said the following in his resignation letter: “It is with immense gratitude to the sacrifices made by my family, the support of my constituents, and the friendship of my colleagues that I have concluded that it is in my best interests of my family, the residents of the 11th House district, and my own health that I resign from the General Assembly.”
Ellis was accused of sexually assaulting a state capitol employee in October 2015. Ellis allegedly offered to help an acquaintance after she fell down in a bar by taking her to his home, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she did not consent to any sexual acts. The Philadelphia Inquirer first published an account of the allegations on January 24, 2019. On January 25, 2019, House Republican leaders issued a statement calling for Ellis’ resignation.
The leaders said Ellis should focus on his family and addressing the allegations, which were under criminal investigation by the Dauphin County district attorney. They also removed Ellis from his committee leadership positions and committee assignments, pending the outcome of the investigation. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) also called for Ellis to step down.
Vacancies in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are filled by special election. The presiding officer of the House must call for the election. The state constitution does not establish a timetable for special legislative elections.