Originally published on June 30, 2018 10:59 am
A state lawmaker has drafted legislation to remove Rep. Steve Lebsock from office as Lebosck has refused calls for his resignation. It sets the stage for a battle, as allegations of sexual harassment continue at the Colorado Capitol. Lebsock is a Democrat running for state treasurer.
Rep. Matt Gray, also a Democrat, said he will introduce a resolution when lawmakers return to the legislature in January. Gray said he believes the accounts of the women who first accused Lebsock in our stories last month.
“I believe these women,” Gray said, “and I believe no other woman should have to go through what they went through.”
Gray said he would not run the resolution until the investigations triggered by the formal complaints are complete.
Lebsock’s response to the measure – and to two new allegations of verbal intimidation by two lobbyists – was to strongly deny every claim against him.
"The stories aren’t even true, so it’s very disappointing," Lebsock told us.
A two-thirds vote would be required in the House to remove Lebsock from office.
Only one lawmaker has ever been expelled in the state legislature and that was more than 100 years ago: Rep. William Howland was removed in 1915 for perjury, according to legislative staff.
“As members of the House of Representatives, it is our job to make sure everyone who comes to the Capitol never has to fear being assaulted or harassed.” said Gray. “I believe [Cassie] Tanner, [Holly] Tarry and Rep. [Faith] Winter when they say they were harassed or assaulted by Rep. Lebsock.”
Winter is a Democrat and Tarry is a former lobbyist. Both have formally complained in a process with House legislative leaders, alleging Lebsock sexually harassed them on separate occasions, making unwanted advances and using vulgar language.
Tanner, a former legislative aide, has gone public with allegations that Lebsock made repeated sexual advances and unbuttoned part of her blouse.
Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper and House Speaker Crisanta Duran called on Lebsock to resign, but he has resisted that. Instead, he reiterated prior remarks that he expects “due process;” a chance to officially respond to the allegations made against him.
“Now what we have is a campaign to get me out of office before I even have an opportunity to tell my side of the story,” Lebsock said.
Meanwhile, on Friday (Dec. 1, 2017), two longtime lobbyists -- AnnMarie Jensen and Kristen Thompson -- came forward, willing to be named, saying that Lebsock was verbally hostile to them on separate occasions.
“He was definitely verbally and physically intimidating, a lot of screaming, getting in my face, pointing and yelling,” said Thomson, recounting several conflicts during the 2014 legislative session.
She alleges the incidents happened after or during in person meetings inside the state Capitol and “made it very difficult for me to do my job."
Lebsock disputed that characterization. His legislative aide at the time, Karen Spaulding, said Lebsock is being wrongly vilified and was not aggressive during her time at the capitol. She believes it’s politically motivated because people don’t want him to run for treasurer.
“I’m not saying he’s perfect, but none of the legislators are perfect,” said Spaulding. “Don’t just come after him and don’t make false allegations against him.”
Neither Thompson nor Jensen have filed formal complaints.
Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
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