Another lawmaker facing expulsion over sexual misconduct - InfoNews

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Another lawmaker facing expulsion over sexual misconduct

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2018 file photo, Colorado State Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, looks on as the Colorado House of Representatives convenes for the start of the 2018 session. Democratic House Majority Leader KC Becker said Tuesday, Feb. 27, that she will recommend that Lebsock be expelled after an independent investigator found sexual harassment complaints against him were credible. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
February 27, 2018 - 4:21 PM

DENVER - A lawmaker from Colorado is the latest state legislator to face expulsion in the wave of allegations of workplace sexual misconduct sweeping the country.

Rep. Steve Lebsock, who represents a suburban Denver district and is running for state treasurer, is accused of sexually harassing a fellow legislator and four other women. He denies the allegations and says he will fight expulsion.

House Majority Leader KC Becker said Tuesday his fellow Democrat should be expelled. Becker said an outside investigator had judged 11 harassment allegations made by women against Lebsock to be credible.

She called the claims "serious and egregious in nature" and said she would introduce an expulsion resolution.

The case is one of several that have rattled statehouses following the emergence of the "#MeToo" movement last fall that prompted millions of women to share their experiences with sexual harassment.

On Feb. 1, the Arizona House voted to expel Republican Rep. Don Shooter after an outside investigator determined he had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment that created a hostile workplace. Shooter is believed to be the first state lawmaker to be voted out of his seat since the #MeToo movement began.

In California, Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza resigned Feb. 22 just ahead of a possible vote to expel him. Mendoza called the investigation into alleged misconduct a farce and said he may run for the seat this fall.

Colorado House lawmakers from both parties will caucus Thursday to consider the case before taking up an expulsion resolution. A two-thirds vote of the 65-member chamber is needed. Democrats hold 37 seats, including Lebsock's.

The case is one of several involving Colorado lawmakers that were first reported by Rocky Mountain Community Radio .

Lebsock, another House Democrat and a Senate Republican have either been stripped of committee leadership positions or resigned voluntarily following claims of inappropriate conduct. All have denied wrongdoing.

Both complaints and investigations into alleged misconduct are considered confidential under the Colorado Legislature's workplace harassment policy. Becker said she would release a redacted copy of the Lebsock findings to lawmakers.

Lebsock's alleged misconduct involves fellow Democratic Rep. Faith Winter, as well as a former legislative aide and a former lobbyist who also lodged complaints.

Winter alleges that Lebsock acted aggressively toward her when she turned down his sexual advances during an end-of-session party in 2016. She said he grabbed her elbow and that she felt threatened.

"I'm willing to speak with any of my colleagues," Lebsock said, referring to a 28-page defence he presented to lawmakers about his conduct before the legislative session began in January. He predicted he would not be expelled.

Lebsock insisted Tuesday that his party was lining up behind Winter in her bid to win a state Senate seat this November that could challenge the narrow Republican majority in that chamber.

"The last thing I was thinking of when I came forward was politics," Winter said Tuesday. "My whole goal in coming forward was to make sure this behaviour stopped and that women in this building felt safe and felt like their voices were heard."

Rocky Mountain Community Radio has also reported that claims against two other Republican members of the GOP-led Senate were found to be credible but that leadership has not taken action on those complaints.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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