AP via the Washington Post summarizes yesterday’s all-day drama on the floor of the Colorado House, which ended with an outcome few expected as the House gaveled in on Friday morning: the first expulsion of a sitting Colorado lawmaker in 103 years:
Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock wasn’t present when Democrats and Republicans voted 52-9 Friday on a Democrat resolution to expel him. One of his accusers — fellow Democrat Faith Winter — cried and smiled and was mobbed by supporters after the historic vote…
Two successive male representatives told fellow members of the House that they were so worried about tensions stemming from the case against Lebsock that they had taken to wearing bulletproof vests beneath their jackets and ties.
While many Republicans were concerned about what the standard of proof should be for proving sexual misconduct allegations, some were swayed by a document Lebsock sent to lawmakers intended to defend himself that also included sexual details about his accusers.
As most of you have already read by now, Rep. Steve Lebsock had one last bit of treachery in store on his way out the door–as The Hill reports, Lebsock switched his party affiliation to the GOP about an hour before the vote to expel him from the legislature:
Colorado’s Republican Party on Friday asserted the party’s right to appoint a successor to Democratic state Rep. Steve Lebsock, who switched parties to become a Republican minutes before being ousted from the state legislature over sexual harassment claims.
A state party spokesman confirmed to The Hill that officials had not made a decision over whether to appoint a successor for Lebsock or let the decision be handled by the state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.
As of this writing there are a host of unanswered questions about events yesterday. Did Lebsock’s party switch prompt Minority Leader Patrick Neville to release his caucus to vote yes on expulsion? Now that Republicans may have a plausible claim to Lebsock’s House seat, albeit via treachery, will they even want to fill it? With an election coming in November and having no impact on the majority, there are legitimate reasons why Republicans might not.
For the present, we think Rep. Matt Gray sums up the feeling among Democrats:
To be clear, I don’t really care about which party, if any, fills the seat. Let the law figure that out.
I care that people feel safe coming to work on Monday. We’ll figure out the rest.
— Matt Gray (@matthewogray) March 3, 2018
Whatever the political fallout may be from yesterday’s drama at the Capitol, the most important outcome is that Rep. Lebsock’s multiple victims have received something like justice after a truly disgraceful period in the General Assembly’s history. Lebsock’s serial harassment of women at the Capitol was reason enough to expel him, but it was Lebsock’s retaliation against his victims by trying to publicly assassinate their character that escalated his conduct from harassment to straight-up villainy.
After Lebsock’s unexpected but welcome ouster by an overwhelming bipartisan consensus, Monday will be both literally and figuratively a new day at the Capitol. Women who have suffered under a culture of harassment and denigration for years have struck back, and Lebsock’s ouster from the House has thrown the GOP-controlled Senate’s wrist-slapping, stonewalling, and diversion in response to the multiple credible allegations against Republican Senators into the harshest of relief.
But we’ll talk about that on Monday. For today, just be proud that what happened yesterday is possible.