Dems call for Baumgardner resignation

RANDY BAUMGARDNER Accused of sexual harassment

DENVER — The entire Democratic caucus in the Colorado Senate on Thursday called for the resignation of Sen. Randy Baumgardner, about the same time a statewide public radio network reported that Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman wanted to withdraw from any official disciplinary process for the embattled Hot Sulphur Springs Republican.

Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County, is under investigation in one of three sexual harassment complaints filed in the Colorado Legislature.

Last week, the former female legislative staffer who filed a complaint against Baumgardner told Bente Birkeland, a Capitol reporter for numerous public radio stations in the state, including in Carbondale and Paonia, that the complaint against Baumgardner was "credible."

Baumgardner is accused of slapping and grabbing the woman's buttocks four times inside the Capitol Building during the 2016 legislative session, including in a public corridor just outside the Senate chambers.

Guzman told Birkeland on Thursday that she was fed up with waiting for answers from Republican leaders in the Senate.

Under Senate rules, it's unclear what the disciplinary process would be in a proven sexual harassment complaint, or even if legislative leaders have any obligation to publicly announce that punishment, which could range from a slap on the wrist to outright expulsion.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, repeatedly have said they can't publicly talk about the complaint.

That prompted the first public call from Senate Democrats for Baumgardner's resignation from the Colorado Legislature.

"Victims and the public at large deserve swift, deliberative and transparent action in response to these allegations," the Senate Democrats said in a statement. "Instead, despite having access to the independent investigation's findings for weeks, Senate GOP leadership has taken no action and said that the public may never know what happens."

Baumgardner, who is in the middle of his second four-year term in the Senate, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Capital Development Committee. 

He also is the main sponsor for the Senate Republicans' premier bill of this year's session, SB1, which calls for issuing millions of dollars in bonds to fund transportation projects.

Other sexual harassment complaints are similarly pending against Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, and Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial.

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