KUNC’s Bente Birkeland breaks yet more news this Friday on the Colorado General Assembly’s expanding sexual harassment scandal–a complaint against GOP Sen. Jack Tate has been found credible by outside investigators:
In an independent investigation, the Employers Council sided with the accuser.
The investigator found it “more likely than not that in early 2017, Jack Tate said to the [complainant], while alone with her in the elevator: ‘I like the way that skirt looks on you.’ More likely than not that in March of 2017, Jack Tate nudged the [complainant], looked her up and down and acted flirtatious. More likely than not that between January and early April of 2017, Jack Tate put his hand on the [complainant’s] shoulder multiple times. More likely than not that around March of 2017, Jack Tate nudged the [complainant] around her waist or rib area, around seven or eight times.”
In particular, this latest report confirming sexual harassment by a Colorado Senator is very bad for the lobbyists who leapt to Tate’s defense–lobbyists who just happened to have disproportionate business before Tate and Tate’s Business, Labor, and Technology Committee:
After we first reported the woman’s allegations against Tate, several women who work at the Capitol rallied to his defense. Six women, mostly lobbyists, and a Democratic lawmaker, told the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political publication, Colorado Politics, that they had not observed any inappropriate behavior while working with Tate.
That effort led our source to file a formal complaint against him. The comments of Tate’s defenders, she said, seemed to downplay her experiences and an official complaint would force a response. Yet Tate’s defenders led her at times to doubt her own story. [Pols emphasis]
“I thought, what if everybody was right?” the woman said. “What if he was just being Southern-ly polite?”
Well, as it turns out, he wasn’t. It was sexual harassment.
Although the focus in this ongoing story should always remain on the perpetrators, the actions of a few female lobbyists who rushed to defend Sen. Tate with a clear ulterior motive for doing so is another low point in a story that is full of low points. The courage shown by Tate’s accuser stands in stark contrast to well-paid lobbyists who tried to run cover for behavior that society as a whole is no longer willing to tolerate.
With that said, we really have no idea what happens next. GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham’s highly controversial non-punishment of Sen. Randy Baumgardner after a similar finding of credible allegations by the same outside investigator, in which Grantham attacked the investigator’s supposed “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest, and inconsistencies,” doesn’t bode well.
But even if accountability has to wait until November, it’s coming. This is all happening in full view of the #MeToo movement. The well-publicized inaction by Republican leadership today will have a cost in votes against Republicans in November.
Until then, it’s now one Republican lawmaker harder to deny there’s a problem.