The Colorado legislature will consider expelling a lawmaker for the first time in more than a century after an independent report found 11 new sexual-harassment allegations by more than five women against the Democrat.
State Rep. Steve Lebsock has been under fire since November over allegations from House colleagues, former legislative staffers, and lobbyists, according to The Denver Post.
House Majority Leader KC Becker described the contents of the new report—compiled as the result of a three-month investigation—as “serious” and “egregious.” Becker outlined the findings in a memo on Tuesday with a resolution proposing Lebsock’s ouster. More than nineteen victims and witnesses were interviewed during the process, according to the resolution.
Becker said she recommended expulsion due to the seriousness of the findings about Lebsock, who she said “engaged in a pattern of egregious harassing conduct,” including “threats of retaliation.”
Lebsock has denied all of the accusations and told reporters on Tuesday that he will fight the resolution.
“I’m not guilty. I’ve done nothing wrong. I have never sexually harassed anyone,” he said, calling the entire investigation “biased and unprofessional,” according to The Post.
Republican state Rep. Patrick Neville also apparently disagreed with the report’s findings, telling the local CBS affiliate that he has “way more questions” after seeing it.
“They’re giving very strong opinions in writeup. I would like to know how they formulated those opinions,” Neville said.
But Lebsock’s accusers—many of them named—have punched back.
“I feel like I have to defend myself because he is attacking me,” former legislative aide Cassie Tanner told the newspaper. “I’m tired of being called a liar.”
Tanner filed a complaint in January alleging that Lebsock tried to unbutton her shirt at a political event in 2015.
“I know what Rep. Lebsock did that night and so does he,” she told The Colorado Springs Gazette.
Another one of Lebsock’s accusers, state Rep. Faith Winter, said this week: “If we don’t move forward with his expulsion, we are sending a very dangerous message (that lawmakers are) held above accountability and reproach.”
The House will vote on the resolution on Friday. It requires support from at least two-thirds of the Democrat-led chamber’s members.
Colorado has not considered a resolution for the expulsion of a member since 1915, according to Becker. If successful, it would be the second state to eject a member since the rise of the #metoo movement last Fall.
Earlier this month, the Arizona legislature voted to expel state Rep. Don Shooter from office following an investigation that found he engaged in “dishonorable” behavior by sexually harassing multiple women over several years, according to The Arizona Republic. Shooter’s expulsion marked the first time the Arizona legislature removed someone since 1991.
In an interview with The Republic following his ouster, Shooter said, “I've been thrown out of better places than this.”
Even still, state legislatures all over the country have struggled with how to handle the pervasive sexual harassment happening to women lawmakers in their statehouses. California, Texas, and Oregon have all made news in recent weeks over sexual-harassment allegations against lawmakers.
But Colorado has nearly outdone them all, with at least five state lawmakers facing formal complaints in recent months.