Is there a deal in place for Baumgardner to resign? Depends on whom you ask.
Author: Marianne Goodland - March 30, 2018 - Updated: April 5, 2018
DENVER — Friday, March 30 could be a big day in the state Senate. Or not.
It’s not because of what might happen in the building. Both the House and Senate are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday. It’s because a sitting state senator may resign his seat.
5280 magazine reported Tuesday night that there was — at one time, at least — a deal struck between Senate Democrats and Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City for embattled Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs to resign his northwestern Colorado seat on March 30.
According to 5280, citing now-Assistant Minority Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver, the deal was that Baumgardner would resign this Friday and the Democrats would not pursue expulsion resolutions against Sens. Larry Crowder of Alamosa and Jack Tate of Centennial.
All three senators have been accused of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct involving legislative aides as well as a female member of the House. A third-party investigator, in a report completed two months ago, found the allegations that Baumgardner slapped or grabbed the buttocks of a legislative aide “more likely than not” had taken place. There are two more pending allegations against Baumgardner, including one from a nonpartisan Senate staffer who accused the lawmaker of creating a hostile work environment.
On Thursday, Grantham concluded the investigation into allegations against Tate.
Even if they are true, they don’t add up to sexual harassment, Grantham said in a letter to Tate dated Thursday.
An independent investigation found that Tate’s accuser was more likely than not telling the truth.
Tate said he has no memory of the alleged incidents, which include making comments about the accuser’s clothing and nudging her near her waist, according to a report the accuser provided the press last week.
According to Senate Democratic spokesman Mansur Gidfar, Grantham approached Guzman about two and a half to three weeks ago, well after Senate Democrats had submitted a resolution seeking Baumgardner’s expulsion and began a daily call on the floor of the Senate for Grantham to introduce the resolution.
The meeting was just between Guzman and Grantham, Gidfar said.
The decision not to seek expulsion against Crowder and Tate was based on what was already known about the allegations against the two. All consequences are still on the table if more allegations come out, Gidfar told Colorado Politics.
“Overstated,” Grantham told Colorado Politics Wednesday morning about whether there was a deal.
“I’ve been talking with many folks — Lucia — and the senator (Baumgardner) — about the possibility,” Grantham said. “To say there is a hard and fast deal is overstated. Ultimately, regardless of what titles are, I can’t force someone to resign. That person has to make those decisions for themselves.”
Guzman stepped down as minority leader last week, stating she could no longer work with the Senate’s Republican leadership.
The tipping point for Guzman was when Democratic state Sen. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village was accused of using an unmarked Senate restroom that is reserved for women. Kagan said it happened just once, but Grantham told reporters last week that Kagan had done so “habitually.”
As for the expulsion resolution, it could actually collect dust and never come forward.
According to joint House and Senate deadline rule 23(a)(1), all resolutions and memorials must be introduced by the 90th day, which is April 9. If the resolution is assigned to a committee, the constitution’s GAVEL amendment would apply, which requires an up or down vote. But the rules appear to give Grantham the authority to shelve the resolution permanently.
The same rule dictates that all bills must be introduced (unless other arrangements are made) by the 100th legislative day. A second joint rule, 23(a)(1.5), says any bills not introduced by then must be introduced by the third working day. The rule applies only to bills, not resolutions.
While the rules appear to give the Senate president a way to ditch the resolution, Senate Democrats have stated they will continue the daily protest at the Senate microphone until he does introduces it.
Editor’s note: This story was updated March 30 to include more information on the allegations against Tate, and to include Grantham’s Thursday statement that the investigation into the allegations against Tate has concluded.