Sen. Randy Baumgardner voluntarily stepped down as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday, just a day after a second formal sexual harassment complaint was filed against the Republican from Hot Sulphur Springs.
A former legislative aide, who has remained anonymous, filed the first complaint against Baumgardner last fall. She alleged Baumgardner slapped and grabbed her buttocks during the 2016 legislative session. On Monday, a former intern, Megan Creeden, filed a second harassment complaint against the senator.
At a press conference in his office Tuesday, Baumgardner addressed Creeden directly.
"I want to take this opportunity to say, Megan, if I did anything at all that was offensive to you, or suggestive, that you thought was offensive, I want to apologize to you." Baumgardner said. "Or anyone else, that I've been here at the Capitol with, if I've said anything that can be perceived as offensive, I'd like to apologize to them as well."
Baumgardner continued to deny the allegations against him. An outside law firm investigated the initial allegation against him and found it credible.
But in a letter Baumgardner passed out to reporters Tuesday, Republican leaders blasted that investigation. “We are concerned by the inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest, and inconsistencies we see in the report,” states the letter, which was signed by Senate President Kevin Grantham and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert. They said they will bring up these issues with the investigators.
The leaders asked Baumgardner to attend sensitivity training, and say they “deem the matter closed.”
— Sam Brasch (@samuelbrasch) February 13, 2018
Democrats, who last week called on Baumgardner to resign, also plan to put forth a resolution to expel him from the Senate.
Baumgardner said he’s suffered personally since the first allegation against him was made public last fall. “Until you’ve walked around in my boots for the last four months, when you go to the store, and people look at you differently, or people talk about you differently, or people bring up these issues all the time, and you can't defend yourself because of the confidentiality of these proceedings … I have to tell you that this has been hard for me to do,” he said.
He then ended the press conference and declined to answer reporters’ questions.