Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports on the announcement late yesterday that Sen. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village will resign just after the start of next year’s legislative session, kicking off an energetic competition among Democrats to replace him and marking another sharp contrast in the now year-long controversy over misconduct by lawmakers in the General Assembly:
After nine years in the legislature, Democratic state Sen. Daniel Kagan announced Wednesday evening that he plans to step down Jan. 11, 2019. Kagan, who would have been up for re-election in 2020, told CPR News he wants to ease up on his work schedule and that his decision had nothing to do with what he dubbed “toiletgate.”
During the 2018 legislative session, a workplace harassment investigation found it likely that Kagan used a women’s restroom inside the state capitol three times in 2017. Kagan maintains he used the unmarked facility, which is reserved for staff and senators, only once and by accident.
“I would never make an important decision like this,” Kagan said of his resignation, “based on a tempest in a teapot like that.”
Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette writes further:
Last March, Kagan was accused of using an unmarked bathroom intended for women senators and staff during the 2017 session by Republican Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton, who also filed a formal complaint. The unmarked bathroom reportedly had a unisex code but one that didn’t work all the time.
Martinez Humenik did not allege Kagan did anything improper in the bathroom, which was finally marked as a women’s restroom in March 2018. [Pols emphasis]
The complaint filed against Kagan by Sen. Beth Humenik last spring occurred in the context of increasing pressure on Senate GOP leadership to take action after multiple allegations of sexual harassment on the part of two Republican Senators, Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate, were found credible. The timing of the complaints against Republican Senators and Sen. Kagan was immediately suspect, being obvious in its effect of deflecting from much more serious accusations against Baumgardner and Tate.
Sen. Humenik’s complaint against Kagan did not allege any form of harassment or other sexual misconduct of any kind, though she misused the procedure for sexual harassment complaints to take this action against Kagan. At the same time, Republican Senate leadership was taking every step possible to forestall release of damning investigations into Sen. Baumgardner in particular to prevent him from being expelled from the Senate. Once you understand all of these facts, the diversionary complaint against Kagan is more than just laughable hypocrisy–it’s an admission of guilt.
We take Sen. Kagan at his word when he says that his decision to resign is not related to this episode. Kagan is independently wealthy, hails from an illustrious English family, and will have no trouble staying busy wherever he chooses to go next. Kagan’s reputation as a thoughtful lawmaker makes his resignation a loss to the institution of the General Assembly more than himself personally–compared to which this ridiculous complaint means less than nothing.
But every day without Sen. Kagan that Randy Baumgardner remains in office is a true disgrace.