UPDATE: Former Capitol lobbyist Holly Tarry makes the point for us:
— Holly Tarry (@HollyTarry) November 29, 2017
As Denver7’s Blair Miller reports–Rep. Steve Lebsock, accused of sexual harassment in official complaints filed by Rep. Faith Winter and a former lobbyist who worked with Lebsock at the state capitol, as well as many other women in discussions with reporter Bente Birkeland of KUNC, has apparently decided not to go quietly.
That’s unfortunate for him.
Colorado state Rep. Steve Lebsock, an Adams County Democrat, said Tuesday he’s received more pressure to resign but says he won’t after he was formally accused by a fellow lawmaker of sexual harassment…
“When I am contacted by the fact finder/s, I will submit my official responses to the two formal complaints. Ultimately the truth will come out,” Lebsock said in a statement posted to his website.
He added in the lengthy post that “most of what has been reported is one sided,” that “some of the alleged incidents have been significantly exaggerated,” and that some of the accusations “are completely false.”
After the allegations against Lebsock came to light, House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne were among the high-profile Democrats to call for Lebsock’s resignation. Duran stripped him of a committee chairmanship.
Rep. Lebsock’s statement yesterday quickly devolved into an incoherent conspiracy theory about Rep. Winter’s upcoming run for the state senate, suggesting that the Democratic Party wanted a “quick resignation” in order to help Democrats seeking to retake the Senate in 2018. That is both nonsensical and deeply offensive, implying that Rep. Winter is using Lebsock’s alleged harassment of her and other women at the Capitol in order to boost her own career. That is simply not what is happening here.
Going back to Birkeland’s original story on Lebsock from November 10th:
Four lobbyists contacted in the reporting of this story said they considered filing formal complaints against Lebsock over the last three years but worried it could negatively impact their careers, the clients they represent, and their personal reputations.
The reporters who have dug into the growing story of widespread sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly have all uncovered a common theme: widespread knowledge among women who work inside the building of who the sexual harassers are, and how to avoid them. The Denver Post’s John Frank described this perfectly:
The warnings start as whispers echoing through the marbled hallways at the Colorado state Capitol.
Watch out for this lawmaker. Don’t be alone with that lawmaker. Avoid these other lawmakers when they drink.
The cautionary tales — passed from lobbyist to lawmaker, lawmaker to staffer, staffer to aide — remained hushed in a place where power and fear create a culture that often tolerates sexual harassment and questionable behavior with few repercussions.
How does this relate to Rep. Steve Lebsock, you ask? Simple: they’re talking about Steve Lebsock. They’re also talking about Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who was hit with a formal complaint yesterday. And they’re talking about some other men, too, who for whatever reason have not yet been exposed. They know who they are. And so do the women with the misfortune of having to work with them.
There is a difference between a man who is truly blindsided by an allegation with no context and a man who stands accused with a wealth of context and corroboration of the allegations. Everything we know about Lebsock’s case suggests that he falls into the latter category: a known and (until recently) unapologetic serial harasser, for whom the allegations are completely unsurprising to those who know his history.
In summary, Rep. Steve Lebsock’s political career is already over. His statement yesterday only further alienated him from Colorado Democrats, basically accusing them of treachery over allegations of sexual harassment from far too many disparate sources to have political origins. His refusal to acknowledge these widespread complaints is a disgrace not just to Lebsock but the Colorado General Assembly as an institution. He should not take his seat when the legislature convenes in January, and the odds of him prevailing in the Democratic primary for Treasurer are resting on the peg at nil. In fact, we’ve even updated The Big Line to give Lebsock one of the only “0%” odds we’ve ever listed in 14 years.
The only person who does not understand this, apparently, is Steve Lebsock.