By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – State lawmakers are doing something they haven’t done in more than a century.
Friday, they’ll vote on whether or not to expel democratic Representative Steve Lebsock. He’s accused of sexually harassing five women.
In a first of its kind hearing Thursday, Lebsock questioned the credibility of an investigator who said she believed his accusers over him suggesting she lied about a key piece of evidence.
“We have a recording and we also have a witness that I handed you the original calendar,” Lebsock said of a calendar by his ex-wife detailing his whereabouts on the date of one of the allegations.
Some Republicans question whether the bar for expulsion has been set too low.
“This is a civil matter,” Representative Yeullin Willet said. “It’s been confirmed now. There’s no sexual contact, no sex assault even being alleged. It’s a matter of a hostile work, bad language, crude language. Is that enough to expel a member?”
But the Democratic Majority Leader KC Becker stood by her resolution to expel Lebsock.
“Right now, we have an existing policy and that’s the policy we have to follow,” Becker said. “In my opinion, we should be expelling a member when this type of repeated behavior puts that many people at risk and threatens so many people with retaliation.”
Republicans claim the vote is being rushed. Many say they haven’t even been able to read the investigator’s report, which is more than a hundred pages long and was heavily redacted until Wednesday night.
They also called for an ethics investigation into whether the Democratic Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran covered-up allegations against Lebsock, who is also a Democrat, for political gain.
“Leadership heard about this accusation, swept it under the rug, and thus endangered other individuals in this capitol,” Representative Dave Williams said.
The Senate, too, is wrestling with sexual harassment allegations. Senate President Kevin Grantham asked the Denver District Attorney Beth McCann to investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct at the Capitol “to help us root out the cancer that is sexual harassment both inside and outside the capitol.”
Three Republican senators have been accused of sexual misconduct. Two of those cases could rise to assault. So far, none of those lawmakers have been disciplined. Grantham said he would move to expel anyone who was convicted in criminal court.