Liberal group calls out Penry, state senator on ‘sexist’ remarks

The liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado on Friday demanded apologies from state Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, and Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, for what the group called “sexist and degrading” remarks Mitchell made during a legislative committee hearing this week.

According to an audio recording of a portion of the hearing posted on ColoradoPols.com, Mitchell referred to a witness’ comment that he was nervous at the beginning of this testimony but indicated that the witness didn’t seem nervous.

“If any of those (witnesses) that follow are (nervous), I just want to pass on a tip that sometimes when I’m in committee and I’m nervous, I relieve that by imagining the chairwoman in her underwear,” Mitchell said.

The chairwoman of the committee is Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. The committee is charged with investigating alleged abuses by Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s workers’ compensation insurer.

Several people can be heard laughing at Mitchell’s comment. A woman presumed to be Carroll noted that Mitchell “got a laugh out of that.”

“I’ll try that next time, sir,” the witness said.

“I don’t recommend that,” Carroll replied.

In a prepared statement, former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, a ProgressNow Colorado board member, chastised Mitchell for making a “sophomoric, suggestive comment” and said Penry “is either too weak or tone-deaf to get control of his caucus.”

Reached late Friday afternoon, Penry called Mitchell’s remark “an obviously inappropriate comment” and said Mitchell “should make it right” with Carroll.

“And since we’re in the business of asking people to apologize for the actions of others, I call on Ms. Schoettler to apologize for (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,” Penry wrote in an e-mail.

Carroll didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Friday.


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