UPDATE: In a statement issued moments ago, Colorado Senate Democrats are calling on Sen. Randy Baumgardner to resign from office.
Through media reports, we understand that an independent investigation has found sexual harassment allegations against Senator Randy Baumgardner to be credible — allegations that he inappropriately touched a staff member on multiple occasions.
Victims and the public at large deserve swift, deliberative, and transparent action in response to these allegations. Instead, despite having access to the independent investigation’s findings for weeks, Senate GOP leadership has taken no action and said that the public may never know what happens. Good faith efforts by our leadership to clarify the process and move things forward have been rebuffed and delayed.
We have no choice but to call for Senator Baumgardner to resign from public office. In the meantime, he must also be stripped of his committee chairmanships.
As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports, Senate Democrats are sounding the alarm following a determination by investigators that a sexual harassment complaint against Sen. Randy Baumgarder is factual–demanding that Senate President Kevin Grantham allow his Democratic counterpart Minority Leader Lucia Guzman to participate in the disciplinary process and ensure the punishment fits the crime:
Democrats in the state Senate are pushing to be included in any disciplinary decision against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner over a sexual harassment complaint filed against the Republican from Hot Sulphur Springs.
Pueblo Sen. Leroy Garcia joined with other Democrats in signing a letter this week to Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Fremont County, insisting that Senate Democratic leader, Lucia Guzman, be included when Grantham and other Senate leaders make any decision about Baumgardner’s conduct.
Grantham told reporters this week he couldn’t make any guarantees because lawmakers haven’t decided how to settle harassment complaints and take action. Lawmakers could expel a fellow member if they so choose.
“There are no set rules on how we proceed,” Grantham told reporters at his weekly briefing, except that he wanted to protect the “integrity, fairness and confidentiality” of the complaint and investigation process.
Given that the victim in this case has herself come forward and told her story to the press, the only “confidentiality” that we can see left to protect here would be Sen. Randy Baumgardner’s “confidentiality”–and for obvious reasons, the idea that Sen. Baumgardner would be entitled to such protection is highly questionable.
That is in fact an understatement.
Lobbyist Holly Tarry, one of the original whistleblowers who called attention to widespread sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly, minced no words in her response:
@SenatorGrantham you could not do more to make your Caucus look guilty and complicit. You’ve compounded the damage of the crime with the damage of the cover-up. Are you protecting yourself? #COleg #copolitics #TimesUp https://t.co/tn3qw1Z0pD
— Holly Tarry (@HollyTarry) February 7, 2018
At this point, the enormous difference between the House’s proactive handling of alleged sexual harassers in that chamber–bouncing them from committee chairs to minimize contact with existing and potential new victims–and the Republican-controlled Senate’s exact opposite approach of allowing accused harassers to retain their prominent leadership roles can no longer be denied. Senate President Grantham’s refusal to take action to protect women with business at the Capitol from Republican lawmakers in his charge is an extremely serious problem, and the only reason it has not brought business to a halt is a pervasive and cultural lack of accountability. That, and of course the fact that Grantham has the power to stop any legislation he wants for any reason.
Something’s got to give, folks. Because whether Grantham and the Senate “ole boys” like it or not, time’s up.