Colorado lawmakers from both sides of the aisle recently voted out one of their own. The decision to expel Representative Steve Lebsock, (D) came after an independent report found the allegations of sexual harassment brought forth by five women to be credible.
Bente Birkeland discussed the outcome of the vote with Brian Eason of the Denver Post and Marianne Goodland with Colorado Politics, specifically about what swayed some lawmakers, and how that could impact what’s happening in the Senate where three lawmakers have also been investigated for sexual harassment.
On What Made the Difference.
Goodland: I think the mood in the house really began to change when Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist said he had an open mind and he would continue to have an open mind on the issue, but he viewed a 28-page manifesto that Rep. Lebsock put out as retaliation and that’s a really clear cut violation of the capitol’s sexual harassment policy.
Eason: It opened a path for Republicans who still had issues with the process, still had issues with the investigations. You still have the Senate President in the other chamber questioning investigators in his own chamber. When Wist brought up retaliation that was something all the lawmakers could decide for themselves whether it had occurred rather than relying on this investigation.
On What It Means for the Senate.
Eason: In talking to Rep. Winter who is of course one of the women who brought a complaint against Lebsock, she’s concerned that the different handling of these complaints in the different chambers is sending mixed messages to folks. You have House Democrats saying the harassment was worthy of expulsion in itself, you have House Republicans saying, well we don’t know about this investigation but retaliation, that’s where expulsion kicks in. Then you have the Senate President saying not even retaliation, it has to be an actual crime to expel someone. There is still concern from women at the capitol that there isn’t a clear bar for punishment that folks feel like is going to get applied equally everywhere.
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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