Today’s testimony was really difficult to listen to, no matter who you are. The letters from victims to personal stories about sexual harassment to personal stories about family members who had been victims of sexual predators – they all were terrible and reflect the worst of our society. Our legislators should reflect and embrace our society’s highest ideals. Rep. Steve Lebsock has failed. Miserably.
It is true that this process has been badly flawed. Even the Denver Post‘s Brian Eason noted it was an unusual process.
But it’s worth noting this has been an unusual process. The last time a lawmaker was expelled, it was upon the recommendation of an investigative committee.
— Brian Eason (@brianeason) March 2, 2018
There is concern that Lebsock is victim of a cynical attempt to take back control of the state Senate by Democrats. He may be. In fact, he probably is. Either that or a plot to clear the field for Rep. Young in the state Treasurer’s primary. That still doesn’t make his actions ok. Was it fair that his hearing was done in public? No. That doesn’t make the things he said and did ok either.
Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran should never have given Lebsock a chairmanship after knowing that there were issues outstanding. This had nothing to do with protecting victims and everything to do with protecting Democrats. Anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong. To be clear, Duran could have simply said, “I don’t think he should have a chairmanship” and pulled rank and never put him in a position of power. A position he could have used (and probably did) to further victimize workers and colleagues at the State Capitol. That was wrong. Duran should be censured. This isn’t victim blaming, this is asking a leader to be accountable.
But we don’t need a perfect process to condemn Lebsock. We saw his terrible behavior on display as he retaliated against his victims. Lebsock’s colleague, Paul Rosenthal, didn’t do that. Nobody else who has been accused undermined their accusers the way that Lebsock did. That is a key differentiator with Lebsock.
The Denver Post got it right when its editorial board wrote the following:
“If state Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Randy Baumgardner had any decency they would have resigned by now to do some serious soul-searching — and if Lebsock does so, he better give himself plenty of time….
“Any normal person would take these formal complaints as a signal that their behavior has been so far beyond the pale of common decency as to compel women to put their careers on the line to protect others from such lecherous treatment.”
Unfortunately, Lebsock has no decency and has done no soul searching. That was clear from his retaliation. Since Lebsock refuses to step down for his disgusting behavior, most of which has been on full display throughout this process by him – not the process, Republicans in the House should vote to expel him. We understand the process has been irrationally flawed and don’t blame those who are uncomfortable with the process. If that leads them to vote no, we get it. No, that doesn’t mean that they don’t believe the victims. This is a terrible vote either way. This is a hard vote. But, it is our opinion that the right thing to do here is to vote yes due to Lebsock’s retaliation.
This is a terrible day in the state legislature.