'This is a political witch hunt': Sen. Jeff Kruse responds to calls for his resignation

FILE- In this Feb. 14, 2012, file photo, Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, speaks at the Capitol in Salem, Ore. Democratic Sen. Sara Gesler, who accused Kruse of inappropriate touching, said Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, that she heard accounts from other women in the Oregon State Capitol of such behavior by men. Kruse, whose committee assignments were removed last week as a punishment, says he hasn't been informed what he's accused of, and that he's been denied due process. (Timothy J. Gonzalez/Statesman-Journal via AP, File)

ROSEBURG, Ore. - The state senator stripped of his committee assignments by the Senate president rebuffed an online petition calling for him to resign - and accused a fellow senator of attacking him in the media without filing a former complaint.

Constituents have circulated an online petition calling on Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, to step down.

Senate President Peter Courtney recently stripped Kruse of his committee assignments.

And Sen. Sara Gelser, a Corvallis Democrat, identified Kruse as the colleague she had previously complained about in regards to inappropriate touching.

"The people that know me know that this is a political witch hunt, quite honestly," Kruse told KPIC News on Monday. "I mean, at this point and time, I don't even know what the complaints against me are."

Kruse said neither the governor nor the Senate president has the power to make him resign.

There's a legitimate, legal process to go through for complaints and nobody has even started a formal process at this point," Kruse said. "It's all just rumors. It's all being played in the media."

Kruse said he has asked the Senate president numerous questions, and that Courtney has refused to answer any of them.

He said he has not spoken to Gelser since her accusations became public.

"Senator Gelser is playing this completely in the media and through tweets and stuff like that," Kruse said, "and I'm not going to play that game."

The interview with Kruse on Monday happened before Willamette Week published a report in which Kruse claims to be the victim of extortion.

The situation involves a video depicting Kruse, Willamette Week reports.

In the video, Kruse sheds his shirt and t-shirt and remains shirtless for the remainder of the three minute, 39 second video. Nothing is visible below his shoulders, although a caption posted with the video says Kruse was masturbating.

"This was a private conversation between two adults, which appears to have been captured and altered by a third party in an attempt to extort money," Kruse told Willamette Week. "This video has been reported to the Oregon State Police."

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