Colorado lawmaker switches parties after being ousted as Democrat on sexual misconduct allegations


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A Colorado state Democratic lawmaker was expelled Friday amid allegations by feminine colleagues about sexual harassment or abuse — however not earlier than switching political events.

Rep. Steve Lebsock was expelled by a 52-9 vote after 5 feminine state Home members took their turns on the podium to return ahead as victims of sexual harassment or abuse.

Democrat Rep. Religion Winter and 4 different girls accused Lebsock of harassment and intimidation contained in the Capitol and at space bars and eating places.

Lebsock bitterly contested the claims, saying his accusers have been mendacity and accusing an unbiased investigator of bias in concluding that the claims have been credible.

He turns into the second U.S. state lawmaker to be expelled for the reason that #metoo motion emerged final fall. Final month, Arizona state Republican Rep. Don Shooter was expelled over misconduct claims;  a California state senator resigned earlier than colleagues tried to formally expel him amid sexual-misconduct allegations.

Lebsock’s change of occasion is not going to finish Colorado Democrats’ Home majority. State Republicans can identify his substitute, however they’re purportedly contemplating passing on that privilege, which provides the duty to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Their determination to not identify a substitute is alleged to be associated to Lebsock being a Democrat when allegedly committing such abuses.   

Some Colorado GOP lawmakers instructed they vote “no” on Lebsock’s expulsion, contemplating they obtained a redacted investigator’s report on the matter just a few days earlier.

Others needed to simply censure him or known as for a proper legislative panel with subpoena powers to analyze the case. Nonetheless, many finally voted “sure,” citing household experiences of sexual misconduct or having been swayed by the experiences associated by colleagues.

Lawmakers on either side of the aisle stood out of respect every time there was testimony about harassment and abuse.

Two successive male representatives informed fellow members of the Home that they have been so anxious about tensions stemming from the case towards Lebsock that that they had taken to sporting bulletproof vests beneath their jackets and ties.

Whereas many Republicans have been involved about what the usual of proof must be for proving sexual-misconduct allegations, some have been swayed by a doc Lebsock despatched to lawmakers supposed to defend himself that additionally included sexual particulars about his accusers.

They mentioned that amounted to retaliation towards those that filed harassment complaints towards him, a transparent violation of the Home’s sexual harassment coverage and past the realm of he-said, she-said.

“On the finish of the day it is every part however I feel the retaliation piece was an enormous a part of this as a result of it was a transparent violation and it was actually egregious and it was one thing we might contact and see and interpret on our personal,” Republican Rep. Lang Seas mentioned.

The talk over sexual harassment has engulfed each chambers of Colorado’s Legislature. Three Republicans within the GOP-led Senate have been accused of misconduct. One has stepped down as chair of a committee, whereas denying wrongdoing.

Senate President Kevin Grantham held a information convention Thursday to decry Colorado’s investigative course of, which requires a confidential, third-party investigation. He known as for Denver’s district legal professional to analyze whether or not Lebsock had dedicated any crimes.

Nonetheless, District Legal professional Beth McCann mentioned a grievance have to be filed with police earlier than her workplace might examine.

“It’s been the honour of my life to serve the individuals of Colorado, and I used to be prepared to battle this yr for the individuals of Colorado,” he then mentioned. “Members, please keep in mind that we should always all the time attempt to do the suitable factor,” mentioned Lebsock, in line with The Denver Put up.

Colorado Democratic Celebration spokesman Eric Walker informed the newspaper that: “Republicans can have him. … Both means, we’re assured the district shall be represented by a Democrat by the point the following session begins.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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