WASHINGTON—If Republican Roy Moore wins Tuesday’s special election, his new colleagues in Washington plan to meet Wednesday morning to discuss a “menu of options” that they could take to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him during the campaign, a Republican Senate aide said.

One thing is clear: Mr. Moore would be sworn-in and seated as a senator and not rejected outright.

Mr....

WASHINGTON—If Republican Roy Moore wins Tuesday’s special election, his new colleagues in Washington plan to meet Wednesday morning to discuss a “menu of options” that they could take to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him during the campaign, a Republican Senate aide said.

One thing is clear: Mr. Moore would be sworn-in and seated as a senator and not rejected outright.

Mr. Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, including one who was 14 years old, when he was in his 30s. He has denied the allegations. When the allegations first surfaced last month, several Republican senators called for the candidate to step down and allow a different candidate to mount a write-in campaign. Mr. Moore refused.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) declined to answer questions about Mr. Moore on Tuesday afternoon, but said last week that Mr. Moore would face an ethics investigation if elected.

The GOP has a number of options when it comes to dealing with Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been mired in sexual misconduct allegations, but each one presents a dilemma for the party. WSJ's Shelby Holliday explains. Photo: Getty Images.

“The leader plays his cards close to his vest, which he should, but I think it goes without saying the Senate will decide who’s going to sit in the Senate, and their fitness to sit in the Senate... but we do have to seat someone who is elected under the Powell decision,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), referring to a 1969 decision by the Supreme Court which concluded that a member who has been elected must be seated.

Advertisement

“You’ve seen the allegations. Mr. Moore denies them,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.). “If he is elected, he will be seated, as the Constitution requires. I think we’re all rather fond of the Constitution. I expect someone will file an ethics charge. It’ll be investigated and then we’ll have facts…They will find out who’s telling the truth.”

Mr. Moore would arrive in Washington in the midst of a national reassessment of how powerful men treat women, and as lawmakers and aides are anxious about which lawmakers could face allegations of misconduct. Both the House and Senate are currently re-evaluating their policies for sexual harassment.

An ethics investigation could result in a vote to expel Mr. Moore, though there is a debate among GOP lawmakers over the appropriateness of such an investigation because Alabama voters would have picked the senator after the allegations were public.

“If the allegations are known prior to the election…then we have a very tough decision to make about whether it’s our role as senators to overturn the will of the people,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) on Sunday on CBS. “Now, I think it’s a different situation if the allegations are not known, or if they occur while the person is sitting in the Senate.”

Advertisement

Ethics investigations are typically slow and done in secret. Members of the committee don’t comment on the process until a conclusion is reached.

Often the pressure to resign causes members to leave early or announce they won’t run for re-election before an expulsion vote takes place. In 1995, the ethics committee recommended expulsion for Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood, a Republican accused of sexual assault and harassment, but he resigned before his fellow lawmakers could vote to do so.

Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat and former comedian, announced last week that he would resign after several women accused him of groping or forcibly kissing them, during rehearsals for shows or while posing for photos. While denying some of the accusations or saying he remembers the incidents differently, Mr. Franken apologized and said he has “let a lot of people down.” He said he would resign but hasn't announced a departure date.

Since 1789, the Senate has officially expelled only 15 members. In 1861, 14 senators were kicked out for supporting the Confederate rebellion. Before that, Sen. William Blount, a Tennessee Republican, was expelled in 1797 for treason.

Advertisement