GOP Harassment Intransigence Untenable, Catastrophic

Senate President Kevin Grantham.

As KUNC’s Bente Birkeland reports and we discussed in some detail yesterday the historic expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock from the Colorado House last Friday has shifted attention in the widening crisis over sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly to the Colorado Senate, where two Republican Senators have been accused of their own serial bad behavior–allegations that, like those against Rep. Lebsock, were found credible by an outside investigator.

But as the whole nation’s attention suddenly turns to Colorado as the new model for holding perpetrators of sexual harassment in positions of power accountable, there’s a problem.

The men in charge of the Colorado Senate don’t want to make history. They like the status quo.

The leader of Colorado’s Senate said that last week’s historic decision in the House to expel a legislator amid sexual harassment allegations would have no bearing on how similar cases in the Senate are resolved. Senate President Kevin Grantham said the House made a tough decision to remove a fellow legislator from the Capitol.

He added that a criminal conviction would be the standard for expelling a legislator from the Senate…

Grantham said an investigation that finds allegations of sexual harassment credible is not enough for him to support the removal of a lawmaker. He said criminal charges would be.

“If we’re going to talk about expulsion, then there still has to be criminal acts and indictments and convictions,” said Grantham. [Pols emphasis]

As of yesterday, Senate Democrats are publicly ramping up the pressure on Grantham with a daily demand to introduce for debate the resolution to expel Sen. Randy BaumgardnerDenver Post:

For the second time this week, Democrats in the Colorado Senate called for Republican leadership to allow debate on the resolution they sponsored to expel GOP Sen. Randy Baumgardner over accusations of sexual harassment…

She said Baumgardner’s actions created an intimidating, hostile and offensive workplace environment.

“For this reason, the members of the Senate Democratic caucus ask that the Senate resolution we prepared and submitted for introduction … be promptly introduced and brought to the floor for debate,” Sen. Irene Aguilar, a fellow Denver Democrat, said the day before.

First of all, let’s dispense with the absurd notion that a criminal conviction is now or should ever be the standard for taking disciplinary action in cases of sexual harassment. That’s simply not the standard in any other workplace in Colorado, where investigations with far less independence and thoroughness are routinely the basis for corrective actions up to and including termination of employment. To declare a criminal conviction, or even criminal charges, to be the minimum standard for intervening in a case of sexual harassment gives members of the Colorado Senate protection that no one else enjoys–not even, as of last Friday, their colleagues in the House.

The Democrats and Republicans in the House who voted for expulsion rejected Grantham’s argument.

“This wasn’t a criminal investigation; this was a workplace investigation,” said Rep. Polly Lawrence, R- Roxborough Park.

Grantham’s off-base call last week for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann to investigate for criminal violations fell flat precisely because of what it represented: a moving of the goalposts after GOP Senate leadership decided they didn’t like the results of the independent investigation into Republican Senators. Grantham and accused Senators like “Handsy” Jack Tate might not like it, but sexual harassment that falls short of a criminal act most certainly does exist.

And Senate President Kevin Grantham just declared that in his chamber, sexual harassment not rising to the level of a criminal act may be carried out by Senators with impunity. Or at least, unlike any other workplace in Colorado, without getting fired.

Folks, this is a political disaster of the likes rarely seen at any level of government. Republicans already lose women voters by significant margins in Colorado elections, a gap that has made the difference between defeat and victory in close races (see: Bennet, Michael).

This a mistake that could help ensure a whole generation of women never, ever vote Republican again.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    I think we're past the point of telling them it's catastrophic. They're gonna have to see it on Election Day.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I don't think that they honestly care about governing and getting their policy agenda implemented. What they truly care about are donations to their excessive PACS and think tanks, and lobbying groups, and donations to those will surely go up if there is a Democratic wave. They have conspiracy theories to peddle, misinformation to spread, and a host of Russki bots to help them do it.

  2. unnamed says:

    I still want nutlid to tell me why the Republican from Thornton's public retaliation wasn't a big deal until he was kicked out of the House.


    Either way, the GOP can kiss their Senate Majority bye-bye.

  3. DavieDavie says:

    Grantham is just stating the obvious — Sexual harassment IOKIYAR

  4. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    What is that gross growth on Kevin’s face?

  5. Neither fired nor disciplined. Baumgartner stepped down from his chair "voluntarily". Not acceptable for any workplace.

  6. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    This a mistake that could help ensure a whole generation of women never, ever vote Republican again.

    You say that like it's a bad thing. Stubborn jackass. Let's hope his opinion doesn't change. I feel for the women who work there but, by digging in his heels like that, he's hurting his own caucus. 


  7. The realistThe realist says:

    And meanwhile, Baumgardner is roaming the halls of the State Capitol, as he's done for years, looking for another young woman to harass, or worse. 

  8. BrownEyes says:

    “Bad behavior in and of itself is generally not cause for an investigation by the attorney general. Generally, there needs to be a law that is broken."

    Governor Hickenlooper in regards to an investigation of Mayor Hancock.  Sounds consistent with Grantham.

  9. ModeratusModeratus says:

    YOU'RE WRONG. Elected officials are not ordinary employees, they were put in office by a vote of the people. It would be terrible for democracy if lawmakers start being removed for office based on unproven allegations. I say elected office has high standards BOTH WAYS: for conduct but also for removing them from office.

    Good for Sen. Grantham for respecting the will of Colorado voters.

    • unnamed says:

      The voters hire a representative by electing them. 

      It is not a criminal issue.  The voters elected this person did not know that they were serial sexual harassers.

      Btw, Lebsock put out his manifesto of retaliation in January and you still defended the Republican from Thornton. Not a peep out of you about said retaliation until he got booted out.  So you don't really care that he retaliated against his accusers. You just want to keep the perps in power.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Your “high standards” for conduct are abysmally low, Fluffycake . . . 

      (. . . coincidentally, not unlike, the high standards of your intelligence, your comprehension, and your morality.)

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