One lingering lowlight from yesterday’s failure by the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate to follow the House’s precedent for accountability for perpetrators of sexual harassment and expel Sen. Randy Baumgardner that we wanted to be sure received a dishonorable mention–as Colorado Public Radio’s Sam Brasch reports:
Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham had resisted over a month of calls from Democrats to hold a debate and vote on Baumgardner, who faces three harassment complaints. Baumgardner has denied the accusations, although an outside investigation found Baumgardner likely grabbed and slapped a former aide on the buttocks multiple times in 2016.
Grantham relented on Monday evening, and allowed hours of debate. But from the outset, it was clear Democrats lacked 24 votes needed to force Baumgardner from the chamber. Only Democrats stood as a Senate clerk read the resolution on the Senate floor. State Sen. Cheri Jahn, a former Democrat who became an independent in December 2017, also stayed in her seat… [Pols emphasis]
The Denver Post’s John Frank:
Sen. Cheri Jahn, a Wheat Ridge Democrat who became an independent this session, said before the vote that she didn’t believe Baumgardner’s action rose “to the ultimate level of expulsion.”
And she expressed concern about the current political climate and the numerous sexual harassment complaints being filed against lawmakers. “I think we have to be very careful,” Jahn said.
Term limited Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who disaffiliated from the Democratic Party late last year as part of the publicity kick-off for the so-called Centrist Project (now known as “Unite Colorado”), has a long record of voting against workplace discrimination protections such as the landmark Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act Of 2013. Her votes against most of the Democratic caucus on this issue were generally considered to be due to her “pro-business” leanings, not wanting to “place burdens on small business” like not allowing them to discriminate.
Not something to be proud of, but Jahn’s votes with the caucus on other matters helped preserve an uneasy peace.
After last night’s vote against the expulsion of Sen. Baumgardner, in which Jahn asserted that credible findings of sexual harassment which would result in termination of employment at any responsible Colorado business do not “rise to the level” of expulsion, we’re left wondering if Sen. Jahn just doesn’t think discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem. Her vote, like the votes of sixteen Republican Senators, unmistakably sends that message.
Once the dust settles, this will not be viewed as a positive development either for Sen. Jahn’s political career or the “Unite Colorado” campaign to elect “centrist” unaffiliated candidates to office. Much like the Unite Colorado campaign is in truth run by a conservative former Republican congressional candidate, Jahn didn’t take anything like a “centrist” position by voting to protect Baumgardner. She sided with Republicans, against victims of sexual harassment, after an independent investigation validated the allegations.
Good luck finding a majority of voters to support that–without an (R) after your name, anyway.