Colorado Senate Stays Safe Space For Sexual Harassment

Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R).

Denverite had the story ready to go:

The Colorado Senate on Monday rejected a resolution to expel Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

Baumgardner was investigated for sexual misconduct based on allegations made by a former legislative aide that were found credible by a third-party investigation, according to the Associated Press. The resolution read Monday said Baumgardner allegedly grabbed and smacked an aide’s buttocks multiple times during the 2016 legislative session.

The tone during Monday’s debate was far more business-like than last month’s emotionally-charged deliberations in the House that ended with then-state Rep. Steve Lebsock’s expulsion.

The final vote on the resolution to expel Sen. Randy Baumgardner over allegations of sexual harassment that were confirmed credible by an outside investigation conducted by the Mountain States Employers Council was 17-17 with Sen. Baumgardner abstaining. GOP Sen. Ray Scott unexpectedly crossed party lines to vote to expel Baumgardner, while “Pretendocrat” Sen. Cheri Jahn (U) voted with Republicans against Baumgardner’s expulsion.

NARAL Pro Choice Colorado had their statement ready, too:

Sexual harassment should not be tolerated in the Capitol, or any where else. Senator Baumgardner, like Rep. Lebsock, should have been expelled.

The message that Senators who voted against the resolution sent to the women of Colorado is this: we are okay with this behavior. We are okay with the abuse of power represented by sexual harassment. We are okay with behavior that would not be tolerated in another workplace.

Everyone should be held to to the same standard and everyone deserves to feel safe at their place of work. That includes those aides and interns an independent investigator found Sen. Baumgardner more likely than not harassed.

This is fundamentally about the abuse of power and the public trust. Those that abuse their power to take advantage of others betrays the public trust and should not remain in the building. Sexual harassment isn’t partisan and a harasser’s party identification should not matter.

Speaker Duran and members of both parties in House of Representatives held a member of the majority party accountable for his actions towards women. The same standard should apply in the Senate with Senator Baumgardner.

We stand with Senator Baumgardner’s victims, and with all survivors of sexual abuse and harassment.

The failure of tonight’s vote was fully predictable. In the last two weeks, conservative blogs, social media, and friendly journalists in the Capitol press corps have flooded the news cycle with “hot take” defenses of Baumgardner along with other storylines intended to discredit and downplay sexual harassment allegations. Senate President Kevin Grantham’s bad faith in negotiations with Democrats over the fate of Baumgardner and two other Republicans credibly accused of harassment and diversionary slander against Sen. Daniel Kagan further indicated that accountability for Baumgardner was not in the offing. The night-and-day contrast between the handling of sexual harassment allegations by the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate is, with this vote, clearly defined for voters in the November elections–where we fully expect voters to dispense the justice Baumgardner’s victims were denied this evening.

Until then, all women at the Capitol can do is stick together–and make sure the new employees know who to stay away from.

If this victory for the status quo sounds disgraceful to you, that’s because it is.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pseudonymous says:

    Well, women at the capital can't all stick together, because, Cheri Jahn. Apparently the Third Way is straight up the keister of justice. If I believed in Hell, I’d have to think that there’d be a special place for those who enable predators.

  2. RepealAndReplace says:

    And what about Ray Scott? Did he vote "aye" by mistake?

    I always though Cheri Jahn was a piece of work.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    I tried to watch Don Coram defending Baumgardner. The one in which he had zero sympathy for the women whose asses were grabbed and / or groped, but infinite compassion for the hypothetical feelings of Baumgardner's adult child, who would be so embarrassed if Baumgardner were accused that he or she might just die from it. Like he/she isn't embarrassed now.

    It pissed me off too much – I couldn't finish watching it.

    Remember in November.

  4. JohnInDenver says:

    As I read this, the resolution only dealt with one complainant, not all 3. Evidence presented was a traditional he said/she said scenario, with the witness admitting that on two occasions, she couldn't be sure who slapped her butt because she didn't turn around.

    The testimony is convincing enough to get a report to say "Baumgardner was more likely than not" to have been the one to act, and sufficient reason (or enough of a justification) to push one vote away from an entirely partisan split.

    What is clear is the process to resolve this is broken. Apparently, women can get slapped on the butt and no one notices. The Senate leadership requires evidence that would be sufficient in court. The leadership can undercut an independent report it commissioned with unsupported challenges. And the final vote must be a supermajority of Senators, when everyone realizes the body is split by a single vote.

    It would (will?) be interesting to see what happens if the resolution was not for expulsion, but for censure.

    • The realist says:

      Nah, the Senate Republicans would not vote to censure, either.

      See, you gotta understand what their full intended message is: "We men (and the quota of two Republican women we allow in the State Senate) just view this all as fun and games, and entitlement. Sure, a few of us have even witnessed Baumgardner's behavior toward young women over the years, but it's all meant in fun. Can't you take a joke?! We've heard the same stories over the years that Baumgardner's been in the legislature. We all know it's true, but we don't want the weak public, and we especially don't want WOMEN to tell us what we can and can't do. Expelling, or even censuring, Baumgardner would set a terrible precedent. All of us men would be at risk of being caught in the same web. See, it's much better now. The pressure is off, no one's asking questions, and lazy old Baumgardner can continue drawing his paycheck, hanging out in the halls of the Capitol, and staying out of the way of the real work that is done here. And those gol durn young women can just stop dressin' the way they do, and they can just keep watchin' out for Baumgardner and the rest of us who just wanna have a little fun."

  5. unnamed says:

    Hey Nutteranus!!!!  How do you think Baumgartner's accusers feel about all this?

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