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Democrats Renew Calls To Expel Sen. Baumgardner From Colorado Senate

The floor of the state senate.
Bente Birkeland
Capitol Coverage
The floor of the state senate.

Senate leaders expect to meet soon to address next steps in possible punishments for Sen. Randy Baumgardner. Three independent investigations by two agencies have found allegations of sexual harassment against him at the Capitol credible.

Democrats are pushing for swift action. Baumgardner, a Hot Sulphur Springs Republican, survived an expulsion vote on April 2. That vote hinged on the findings of just one of the three investigations, which concluded that Baumgardner more likely than not grabbed and slapped a former legislative aide’s buttocks.  The two other investigations had not been finalized at the time of that vote. They were only released to the accusers last week. We made them fully available to the public on April 24 with the accusers’ consent.

“We now find out that now only did this senator hit a woman on her butt, he’s also known as a ‘boob grabber’ and we’re still going on with our business, not addressing our workplace,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “What’s it going to take to lead in crisis?”

The new investigations from Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution Inc. found allegations that Baumgardner created a hostile and offensive workplace credible. In all, the three investigations found claims of inappropriate behavior credible from nine people who worked at the Capitol.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican, said the latest ADR investigations were done in a professional manner, but he said he would not ask Baumgardner to resign. Grantham would like to come up with a consequence before May 9 when the legislature adjourns, and said he wants to include the perspectives of both the majority and minority leaders.

“I think we’re kind of compelled to get it resolved,” said Grantham.

He added that even though there are problems at the capitol's workplace, he said he hears every day from people from both parties who tell him their experiences are good and professional, just like his own experience has been. He said some are even incensed.

Their concern, Grantham said, is “how all of this is being played and misplayed and how their beloved chamber and Capitol is being besmirched by all of this, because that wasn’t their experience either."

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.

Copyright 2018 KUNC

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.