Colorado Senate Sexual Harassment Crisis Nears Breaking Point

UPDATE #2: From the Senate floor moments ago:

Note Sen. “Handsy” Jack Tate in the background looking at the carpet.


UPDATE: The Denver Post and Aurora Sentinel both call out the GOP-controlled Senate’s inaction in hard-hitting editorials:

GOP leaders there don’t want to admit what Winter and a lot of fellow House Republicans made perfectly clear as they took turns testifying against Lebsock and others who perpetrate sexual harassment as lawmakers.

To Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City and outed pervy GOP state senators Randy “Spanky” Baumgardner and Jack “Oh, Leery” Tate, it’s not that big of a deal. They say no law was broken, so move along, folks…

There were crimes committed by these men. There’s just no law — yet — against a legislator using his or her position to extort sex from or bully Capitol staffers, lobbyists or each other.

The only difference between other forms of bribery, blackmail and assault is that the sexual kind is perfectly legal for state elected officials.


Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

AP’s Jim Anderson reports via the Durango Herald on the escalating confrontation between Democrats in the Colorado Senate and Republican leadership of that chamber over credible allegations of sexual harassment against at least three sitting GOP Senators–allegations that have gone essentially unpunished by Senate leadership in marked contrast to the expulsion of Democratic-cum-Republican Rep. Steve Lebsock:

Colorado Democrats on Wednesday urged Republicans who control the state Senate to allow debate on a resolution to expel GOP Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who was investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Lucia Guzman said that Republican Senate leaders are “re-victimizing the victims” by refusing to introduce the resolution and by insisting that alleged victims take their misconduct complaints to prosecutors for criminal investigation.

Guzman said that proposal unfairly raises the bar for those seeking redress under the Legislature’s workplace harassment policy – one which offers no strict guidelines on sanctions.

Senate President Kevin Grantham.

Here’s what Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman told Senate leadership yesterday, following Senate President Kevin Grantham’s shocking announcement this week that only cases of sexual harassment rising to the level of criminal acts would be punished in his chamber:

Senate Republicans do not need a permission slip from the DA to hold harassers accountable. [Pols emphasis] Our colleagues in the House took bipartisan action to hold Rep. Lebsock accountable — it’s past time for the Senate to do the same…[t]hese are not the words of leaders who “takes these allegations very seriously” as Senate Republicans claim to, but of someone trying to distract from their own lack of action.

Dismissing independent investigations as invalid, inappropriately blurring the lines between independent law enforcement and elected officials for political gain, pushing wilful misinterpretations of the law to shelter abuses of power — these actions by Senate GOP leadership mirror the alarming disrespect for rule of law and institutional norms that we’ve seen from the Trump administration at the federal level. We condemn this behavior in the strongest possible terms.

The exchange culminated in this statement late yesterday from Grantham’s office–a statement that is simply mind-blowing in its complete abdication of leadership responsibility:

If Senator Guzman wanted to dictate punishment for Senator Baumgardner she should not have removed herself from the legislative process. Senator Baumgardner was punished, with the exact punishment requested by Senator Guzman when she was still part of the process, weeks ago. For her office to say otherwise is a complete misrepresentation.

We have also asked for further criminal investigation into all workplace harassment complaints tantamount to assault. We, as legislators, lack the tools to investigate and punish allegations of this severity. [Pols emphasis] This is why we have repeatedly called on Denver District Attorney Beth McCann to investigate these allegations and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law if she finds the necessary evidence.

Once again, Sen. Randy Baumgardner’s “punishment” after a sexual harassment complaint against him was found credible by outside investigators consisted of a letter in which Grantham attacked the investigation’s “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest, and inconsistencies,” before thanking Baumgardner for voluntarily stepping down as chair of the Transportation Committee–while retaining other ranking committee posts–and taking an equally voluntary “sensitivity training.” It is absurd to suggest that this was the punishment “requested” by Guzman, though it does help explain why she withdrew from the disciplinary process in protest.

As for Grantham’s claim that the Senate lacks “the tools” to hold perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable, it’s simply preposterous. Of course he has the tools to do so, just like the House did last week when they overwhelmingly voted to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock.

The problem is that Grantham doesn’t want Lebsock’s case to be the standard in the Senate, as it would be in any other workplace in Colorado. Grantham wants to make criminal actions the standard for intervening in cases of lawmakers who commit sexual harassment, which in effect gives lawmakers impunity to engage in all kinds of harassment that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime. That precedent would be destructive to literally decades of progress in creating a safe working environment for women.

As Minority Leader Guzman said above, the present impasse is effectively re-victimizing women who have come forward to ask for justice under the complaint process Grantham himself prescribed, only to be told that the weeks-long outside investigations they participated in weren’t good enough to render judgment. We cannot emphasize strongly enough how wrong this is, and how directly counter it runs to what is happening almost everywhere else in American society.

What comes next? We can only leave you with the famous words of Mario Savio:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

And tell you to stay tuned. Because the time for everyone with a conscience under the Gold Dome to “put their bodies upon the gears” is fast approaching.

24 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pseudonymous says:

    Women aren't safe in the Colorado Senate.  Kevin Grantham and Chris Holbert don't care enough about them to protect them.

  2. unnamed says:

    Waiting for the defender of the pervs to tell us why getting handsy and mass shootings are okay but pot is bad.

  3. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    Shut it down.

  4. ModeratusModeratus says:

    It is obvious that Democrats are using these allegations to achieve political outcomes they could not achieve at the ballot box. This is a corruption of the MeToo movement for partisan political purposes. Every Coloradoan has a duty to resist Democrat witch hunts and stand up for due process. Anything less makes you less than an American.

    As for you Colorado Pols, you are complete scum. You are playing games with the lives and careers of good men while you defend Bill Clinton and the other sex maniacs in your own tent. You went after Lebsock because he didn't vote the way Crisanta Duran ordered him to.

    You have no scruples and no morals and God will judge you for your hypocrisy!

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Cookie, did you forget to water Moddy this weekend?  Or is he just off his meds again.  He says God is going to judge us for not being Republicans.   Oh boy, I hope I'm not in trouble with Athena again.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Maybe she’ll sentence us to sensitivity classes? . . . 

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        I watered him, V, but the weather sucked all weekend so I couldn't set him in the window for some sun.

        As for Grantham, he may think that women in hard-scrabble Canon City won't care that their senator is abetting a creep like The 'Stache, but I'm betting he's wrong, and that he'll pay for it at his next election.

    • Mike W. says:

      "god will judge you for your hypocrisy!"

      How's that Donald Trump goin' for ya?

    • Pseudonymous says:

      It is obvious that Democrats are using these allegations to achieve political outcomes they could not achieve at the ballot box. This is a corruption of the MeToo movement for partisan political purposes.

      A Republican vacancy committee is going to appoint a Republican replacement to sit in these seats that a Republican will win in the next election.  Your talking points need talking points.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Okay, who laced Moddy's "Cherrios" this morning with crystal meth?

      He is in an unusually fiesty mood this afternoon. He is calling on the Almighty to strike Democrats down as hypocrites because of Bill Clinton (for those of your who are too young to remember, Bill Clinton was president between 1993 and 2001) "and the other sex maniacs in your own tent." (By that I presume he is referring to Anthony Weiner who is not in anyone's tent unless you count the Bureau of Prisons.)

      We are playing games with careers of good men? Good men do not behave the way Handsy Tate and the Stache were found to have behaved by the Employer's Council – an investigative firm selected by none other than the Other Stache, Kevin Grantham.

    • JohnInDenver says:


      In a commentary on Matthew 5:22, a conservative group "" explains:

      Jesus not only warns us against expressing unrighteous anger, which can lead to murder, but clearly commands that disparaging denunciations and name-calling be avoided. Such abusive words reveal the true intents of one’s heart and mind for which we will be held in judgment: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10; cf. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9).

      You apparently believe — which suggests there ought to be some evidence in your behavior and discourse of that belief. Political aspersions and assumptions about others' motivations and desires don't mix well with a sense that all of us are children of God.

      When calling for judgment, you ought to be aware of the judgment coming to you, as well.


    • davebarnesdavebarnes says:

      When you prove that your "God" exists, then I might be worried about being judged.

    • spaceman65 says:

      Moddy, first, there is no god. So shut up about that. Second, this is about your party sticking it’s fucking head in the sand and allowing sexual harassers—proven harassers, you ass—to continue in their roles. Fuck them and fuck you

    • What political outcomes? Worst case, Senate Republicans have to stall for a week or two while vacancy committees replace expelled harassers.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Baumgardner's term-limited in 2020. He literally has nothing to lose. Tate's next election is also in 2020.

        Senator Grantham's terms are up this year. Stephanie Luck or Dennis Hisey  will run to  replace him in District 2. Luck is a bible-bangin, marijuana-hating young female, which for many people is an answer to #metoo. If this nice-looking blonde lady doesn't object to Grantham's ignoring all the hypocritical handling of women, then it must be okeydokey with God, too, right?

        It doesn't look as though Democrats are challenging to hold this office – which is a pity. This would be the year to take it – but time's running out.

        So the "political outcomes"  would be just reflections on other Republican candidates who do have elections this year. Otherwise, as Phoenix wrote, there will be little, if any, political outcomes for Grantham, the Stache, or "Hands-On" Tate.

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          For Baumgardner now I think it is all about $149/day per diem, salary and benefits. Everyday his PERA contribution, and the state's, grows. As long as he is there something magic could happen and he might get hired as a lobbyist. Asphalt sales. Where is Maes?

    • MADCO says:

      Bill Clinton was a sexual predator. If he was president now – I'd call for his resignation.
      Donald trump is a sexual predator and he should resign.
      Steve Lebsock got caught acting inappropriately and the House rightly voted to expel his lying butt.

      Any Senator douche weasels should resign or be expelled too.

      And the Mayor should go too. But the Colorado Senate has no say on that.

      Unless… how about the Senate do the right thing and pass a law making sexual harassment a crime?

  5. International Women's Day showed that Colorado Senate Republicans do not care about women's safety.

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