Senate Republican leaders talk major issues left in final full week of session

 

Colorado state Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City told reporters this morning he believes the latest investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Sen. Randy Baumgardner “was done in a much more professional manner.”

That statement is in marked contrast to his views of an earlier investigation into a separate allegation against the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican — an investigation that Grantham and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker called “biased, inaccurate, inconsistent and with conflicts of interest.”

As first reported by Bente Birkeland of KUNC Monday morning, the latest investigation revealed at least four nonpartisan Senate staffers complained about Baumgardner leering at a fellow co-worker. The report said Baumgardner even followed this female staffer to a second job outside the Capitol.

As with the first investigation, Baumgardner denies the allegations brought forward in the second one, according to the newest report.

The second investigation into Baumgardner’s alleged behavior was conducted by Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution Inc., according to the KUNC report. That’s a new company brought in to investigate the allegations after Grantham and others raised questions about bias and inaccuracies in the first investigation, which was conducted by the Employers Council.

After that first report surfaced, Senate Democrats mounted a 42-day protest to push for a resolution of expulsion against Baumgardner.

The resolution was finally brought to the floor for debate on April 2, the same day the second investigation report was provided to Secretary of the Senate Effie Ameen, according to KUNC. Grantham and Holbert on Monday denied having seen the report the day of the expulsion vote, which failed 17-17, largely along party lines.

On Monday Holbert claimed that Ameen made the call for when the resolution came forward, although the Senate majority leader routinely controls the Senate calendar.

A second complaint in the latest report involved former intern Megan Creeden, who alleged Baumgardner pressured her to drink with him in his office. The investigator from ADR said she found it credible that Baumgardner “acted inappropriately” with Creeden, but it did not interfere with Creeden’s work environment because there were just two incidents.

According to the KUNC story, the investigator, Kathryn Miller, wrote in her report, “I find it particularly inappropriate and distasteful that Baumgardner, an elected official, would use his public status and access to young women to make them uncomfortable and uneasy, by in this case making a sexual ‘naughty dream’ innuendo to a woman half his age whom he had met once.”

Grantham on Monday told reporters he would not ask Baumgardner to resign, nor is he at this time prepared to write a letter detailing how the Senate would proceed.

“I’ve barely seen the report,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia, Democrat of Pueblo, told Colorado Politics his caucus is concerned about the trend the investigation revealed about Baumgardner. However, the deadline for another resolution has come and gone — it was April 9 — and, absent a change in the rules, another is unlikely.

The latest report “underscores the need for a more clarified process” for resolution of complaints, Garcia said Monday. It also points to the sacrifices that Assistant Minority Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver made in working with the Senate Republican leadership.

Guzman eventually resigned from her role as minority leader and stepped away from the leadership process in dealing with the multiple complaints of sexual harassment levied against three Republican members of the Senate. Guzman stated she could no longer look the Republican leadership in the eye.

“We commiserate with the frustration the process has led to,” Garcia said.

“The voters of Colorado deserve resolution … but I don’t know that those options exist,” he added. “But we have to call on this collective body to do the right thing.”

Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution — associated with the Littleton law firm of Miller & Steiert PC — provides fact-finding services, mediation, workplace dispute resolution and other services.

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