Colorado Republican Leader Would Not Vow To Make Sexual Harassment Punishment Public

Kevin Grantham, the president of Colorado's Senate, refused to say whether he would make any punishment stemming from a sexual harassment investigation -- public. He was asked Monday (Feb. 5, 2018) during a weekly media briefing with Capitol reporters whether he would commit to telling Coloradans any disciplinary action Sen. Randy Baumgardner would face. Baumgardner is the subject of a formal sexual harassment complaint.

“I can’t say one way or the other on that," Grantham said.

Last week, we broke the story that the complaint was considered credible by the independent group that spent two months investigating it. Leadership in the Senate will determine any disciplinary action, it could range from doing nothing, to a private apology or more training, to expulsion from the chamber. Expulsion requires a full vote of the sitting members of the chamber.

“Bottom line is the report came back to the contact person and the results were made known to leadership and at this point we are still in the middle of determining this process and what we are bound to do and must do,” Grantham told reporters. "There’s no set rules on how we proceed.”

Grantham and Baumgardner are Republicans.

The legislature’s legal services office said the consequences may never be known because of the confidential nature of sexual harassment complaints.

We only were able to report on the original complaint because the accuser told us about it.

During the briefing, Grantham added that his goal is to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the complaint process. 

He was also asked if the leadership of the chamber, which includes the Republican majority leader and Democratic minority leader, would help decide the disciplinary action, or whether he would make any decision on Baumgardner alone.

“I can’t say that either; I don’t know,” said Grantham.

We broke the story last November when a former legislative aide filed a sexual harassment complaint against Baumgardner. She told us that he grabbed and slapped her buttocks multiple times during the 2016 legislative session.

We have also confirmed that three formal sexual harassment complaints against Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat, and one against Sen. Jack Tate, a Republican, are still pending.

During the media briefing Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling was asked whether Baumgardner should resign, as the Aurora Sentinel editorial board has called for.

“I’m here to talk about what I think [are] the important issues of the state and that’s roads, rural broadband,” said Sonnenberg. “The president has issued a statement. I have nothing to add with regard to that. Let’s talk about those issues that the vast majority of people want to talk about in Colorado.”

Update (Feb. 6, 2018, 1:30 p.m.): Every Democratic senator, except for Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, signed a letter on Tuesday asking Grantham to include the minority leader, a Democrat, in any disciplinary action against Baumgardner.  We will update the story when we have a response from  Republican leaders in the Senate. The letter follows:

President Grantham,

We are disappointed and alarmed that Senate Majority leadership has not made clear that the Minority Leader would be included in the discussions of disciplinary action for a member of the Senate following the recent findings by the Employer’s Council.

The General Assembly workplace harassment policy states “If the contact person determines that a member of the General Assembly has violated this Policy, the contact person shall inform leadership of the respective body which shall, in turn handle the disciplinary action, if any, according to the rules of the appropriate house of the General Assembly.”

The Office of Legislative Legal Services had advised that leaders from both parties are responsible for this decision-making process.

Furthermore, given the nature of the complaint against Senator Baumgardner and the broader workplace harassment debate, it is especially important that a woman be involved in this decision of disciplinary action.

We appreciate the need to uphold the integrity of the process, and that is why we firmly believe a decision on this matter should come from the bipartisan leadership of the Senate.

Signed by 15 senators

Editor's Note: "According to the Senate Minority Office, the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) just clarified that Senate leaders themselves, and not OLLS, make the final determination on who is included by the term 'leadership.'"

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