GOP representative says Speaker Duran put everyone at risk by putting ‘known harasser’ Lebsock in position of power

Author: Jessica Machetta - November 14, 2017 - Updated: November 16, 2017

New Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, applauds during the opening session of the 2017 Colorado Legislature at the Capitol in Denver, Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)New Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, applauds during the opening session of the 2017 Colorado Legislature at the Capitol in Denver, Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The GOP is now firing at Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran for not removing Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, from leadership positions sooner when she knew of alleged sexual misconduct.

Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, wants an outside investigation led by the Attorney General’s Office.

“The fact that you placed a known harasser with multiple accusations against him in a position of power over us, lobbyists and interns shows an incredible lapse of judgment,” Landgraf wrote in a letter to Duran. “You put us all at great risk.”

Duran responded Tuesday afternoon in an e-mailed statement, saying she didn’t know the alleged incident was unresolved.

“As speaker of the house, I will continue to support the right of a victim to decide how they want these personal and sensitive situations to be handled,” she said.

“When I named Rep. Lebsock to the chairmanship, I believed that the situation had been resolved to the satisfaction of Rep. Winter,” Duran said. “When these new allegations came to light last week, I took action to address them. I would not have appointed him chair knowing what I know today.”

Lebsock talked to Colorado Politics earlier in the day Monday, saying he had to be tight-lipped about the situation, but said, “The only thing I’m guilty of is talking to a married woman about sex at a bar.”

Lebsock is accused of propositioning fellow Democrat Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster. after the 2016 legislative session ended and several legislators, lobbyists and staff members gathered at a local bar to celebrate. Winter is joined by at least eight others, according to KUNC’s Bente Birkland, who say they were also inappropriately addressed by Lebsock.

“Duran should have done something then, yes,” Landgraf told Colorado Politics, “and now I think our policies need to be evaluated, by an outside source because that type of behavior should not be allowed to happen at the state Capitol or anywhere.”

“If (the allegations) are true, why was he put in a power of authority over a committee?,” she said. “That’s my question. And now that it has come out, what’s being done other than going to the media? It all comes down to looking at our policies.”

Landgraf said in the past, if something like this was reported, the leadership on both sides would have been notified and “something would have been done about it.”

“If the decision was made that it was going to be handled in house, or if it was going to be looked into, or had been taken care of in some appropriate manner, that would have been, should have been disseminated to the members and we would have moved on.

“That doesn’t mean sweeping something under the rug, keeping things a secret for 16 months and then it comes out,” she said. “It certainly doesn’t mean allowing someone to continue to exhibit bad behavior, whatever bad behavior it may be.”

Duran and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, said Monday they would begin an annual workplace harassment training program and would be reviewing policies and rules regarding sexual misconduct.

Winter stands by Duran’s decisions, saying the focus needs to be on Lebsock and Lebsock alone.

“From when I first informed Speaker Duran about the incident to when I informed her I would be filing a formal complaint, she has been very supportive and has also followed all the guidelines as outlined in our workplace harassment policy,” Winter said in the statement. “I 100 percent support the speaker, and we need to focus on the only person to blame for Steve Lebsock’s actions – Steve himself.”

Jessica Machetta