BREAKING: GOP Sens. Tate, Baumgardner Accused of Harassment

Randy Baumgardner.

KUNC’s Bente Birkeland breaks more ugly news from the Colorado General Assembly–this time two members of the Republican state Senate majority accused of harassing lobbyists–and, in at least one case, an intern working for a member from across the aisle:

New claims of sexual harassment have been brought up at the Colorado legislature involving Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate. Both, in comments to us, strongly deny any wrongdoing, although they refused to answer our specific questions directly.

Megan Creeden, an intern who was 25 at the time, told us she had many uncomfortable encounters with Baumgardner during the 2016 legislative session. She said Baumgardner often pressured her to drink with him in his office and she didn’t want to be with him in his office alone because she didn’t know him…

Six other female lobbyists and staffers who declined to be named for this story, fearing going public would affect their work relationships at the Capitol, said they also avoid Baumgardner. Some said they won’t work alone with Baumgardner and only go to his office in pairs or urge male colleagues to work with him instead. Baumgardner chairs the Senate Transportation and the Senate Capital Development Committees.

The allegations against Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs are not surprising to many people in the Capitol we’ve spoken with–in fact it was only surprising that it took so many days after the initial allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the General Assembly came out almost one week ago for Baumgardner to become part of the story.

That’s a nice way of saying that Baumgardner’s reputation for this kind of thing is not a well-kept secret.

Jack Tate.

The case of Sen. Jack Tate, representing a substantially less safe suburban Denver Senate district, though, was perhaps less expected:

The former intern, who was 18 at the time, spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, because she could be involved in an unrelated sexual assault case involving a different person. She claims Tate was inappropriate with her repeatedly over a period of two-and-a-half months last year…

At one point, she alleged, Tate said to her, “if she wanted to move up in the world, give him a call.” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, eww. That’s the trademark blending of the professional with the skeezy you never, ever want to see.

In response to these new-but-not-really-new allegations, GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham released a new statement, overriding previous carefully-worded missives about “proactively” taking on the problem of sexual harassment. Now that Republicans are under the microscope, the Senate GOP leadership is officially clamming up:

We take every allegation of harassment or misconduct seriously. We ask those who feel they have been victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior at the General Assembly to file an official complaint, in confidence that their anonymity and rights will be protected. Going forward, Senate Republican leaders cannot and will not be responding to unsubstantiated or anonymous allegations against members appearing in the press, which the existing complaint process is designed to handle… [Pols emphasis]

Can you imagine the outcry if this had been House Speaker Crisanta Duran’s first response?

As you can see, the next phase of this troubling but very much necessary storyline appears to be underway. Stand by for updates tomorrow.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    If only these guys took Tim Neville's lead and recognized the benefits of being only in the company of men, all would be well.

  2. unnamed says:

    Waiting for nutlid to weigh in.  After acting like Dems in CO had a near monopoly on sexual harassment/assault allegations.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Nutlid will weigh in, once he gets the talking points

      He will do exactly like Two Scoops did with Franken and Moore when asked about them. Attack the Dem and ignore the Repuke.

      And if you are keeping score at home, it’s all tied up in the state legislature with two House Dems and two Senate Repukes accused sexual misconduct/harassment.

  3. Pseudonymous says:

    Silence is complicity.

    The failure of people to condemn these acts, and their willingness to find reasons to dismiss or diminish them when someone they view as “decent” is accused, is yet another attack on the victims of this sexual aggression.

    That these failures so often arise in the name of seeking political advantage only shows the bankruptcy of our politics.

    • The realistThe realist says:

      Whoa, who are you accusing of being "decent?"  smiley

    • ParkHill says:

      I'm having a couple problems with the way this issue is playing out, aside from the politicization. 

      (1) The accusations cover quite a range of different behaviors, but the outrage and the headlines are turned up to 11 on all of them. Groping and rape are both assault, but they are of a different scale. Extra-marital affairs and hypocrisy are not crimes. A "family values" politician caught in a same-sex tryst may be morally bankrupt, but it isn't illegal.

      (2) The actual power relationship makes a huge difference. Giving someone a job via the "casting couch", threatening to destroy a career, or a 32 year old DA trolling for teenagers at the mall are examples of "power-over" that are different from hitting on a co-worker.  Assault from trusted community member enlists the community into complicity.

      (3) The patterns of abusive behavior are different. A predator is different from an ass-hole. I've seen a predator in action; it is about pursuing and exploiting weakness or vulnerability, not "hitting on" someone in a bar. 

      (4) Apology or non-apology? Remorse or no remorse? We've got malignant narcissists who don't believe they've done anything wrong, denials, attempts to discredit, buy-off or harass the accuser, non-apology apologies and sincere apologies.  

      No easy solutions.

      The benefit of all the outrage is that maybe we'll see some improvements. But the problem is bigger than simply getting rid of a few horrible or bad actors. 

      Changing people's attitudes and awareness about acceptable behavior is one thing…

      I think the big underlying issue is Power, because Power is so prone to corruption. We've always got assholes, but Power, whether it comes from wealth, position, uniform, guns or social norms, enables assholes to become abusers (of all kinds). 

      Maybe it is no coincidence that the backlash to Trump's election includes both "me-too" and "resist".

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        yes

        This is very well put, Park Hill. There is a difference between harassment (e.g., tell a dirty joke) and sexual assault (groping or penetration). People are losing track of that.

        That is not to say that any of this should be condone or ignored. It is just that a proportional response is what is called for. Rapists and child molesters face prison. Supervisors who tell dirty jokes to their subordinates get fired. And the companies that condone the supervisors telling the dirty jokes to make their subordinates uncomfortable get sued.

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        Park Hill-good remarks

  4. Gray in Mountains says:

    Surely, there is more than this alleged conduct. 

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