Today, the Denver Post editorial board dismissed calls for Democrat Speaker Crisanta Duran to step down after displaying terrible judgment in giving accused sexual harasser Rep. Steve Lebsock a committee chairmanship after addressing complaints that he was harassing women at the Capitol. The Post suggested that focusing on Duran is a distraction from Lebsock’s issues and affirmed that Lebsock alone is responsible for his egregious behavior toward women.
But, to be clear, Duran is responsible for her decisions, too. While it’s true that Duran did not sexually harass anyone, she did make bad decisions. The worst of the decisions was to give Lebsock a position of power when he already had demonstrated that he abused his position of (lesser) power. Duran’s decision to make Lebsock chair of a House committee had nothing to do with victims and protecting their privacy. Here is how the Post tried to conflate the two distinctly separate issues:
“Despite Winter’s complaint, Duran appointed Lebsock as chair of a committee for the next legislative session, raising legitimate questions about such a promotion when Duran was aware of an incident that could have been worthy of disciplinary action. It’s also likely Duran and others had heard rumors about Lebsock’s propensity for sexual advances that were circulating around the Capitol from other women who worked with Lebsock.
“Duran’s response is compelling.
“She told The Post that she was trying to support ‘the right of a victim to decide how they want these personal and sensitive situations to be handled.’”
That’s great. Victims should be supported. But refusing to give Lebsock the chairmanship of a committee does not equate to not supporting the wishes of a victim. That is a false choice. Period.
Leaders have to make tough decisions all the time. One of those decisions was whether to give someone who demonstrated time and time again that he was unable to handle positions of power more power. That was Duran’s decision, completely separate from whether he should have been officially investigated, which may have been against the wishes of a victim.
It’s the chairmanship decision where she showed an incredible lapse in judgment. Speaker Duran alone is responsible for her own decisions.