House Speaker Crisanta Duran to fellow Democrat Steve Lebsock: ‘Do the right thing and resign’

Author: Ernest Luning - November 29, 2017 - Updated: November 29, 2017

"Excused," says House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, as it turns out 18 of the 19 women in the chamber's Democratic caucus aren't there during morning roll call on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at the Colorado Capitol. The women were sitting out at the start of the day to demonstrate solidarity with the Day Without A Woman strike underway worldwide. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, presides over the chamber on March 8, 2017, at the Colorado Capitol. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

House Speaker Crisanta Duran on Wednesday reiterated her call for state Rep. Steve Lebsock to resign from the Colorado Legislature in response to her fellow Democrat’s statement that he intends to defend himself against complaints he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker and a former lobbyist.

“I’m disappointed in Rep. Lebsock’s attempts to shift attention to the actions of others rather than taking responsibility for his own. I continue to believe he should do the right thing and resign,” Duran said in a tersely worded statement.

Lebsock told Colorado Politics on Wednesday he isn’t going anywhere.

“I’ve fought for the people of Colorado for many years, and I’ll continue to do that,” he said after Duran issued her statement.

A day earlier, Lebsock said he’s ready to tell his side of the story and intends to stay in office while continuing his run for state treasurer despite calls he step down and end his campaign.

Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat serving his third term in the state House, also charged that he’s been facing pressure to resign quickly and put the controversy “in the rear view mirror” in order to increase chances one of his accusers can win a battleground Senate race that could tilt control of the chamber to the Democrats after next year’s election.

“All I am asking for is due process,” Lebsock wrote on his campaign website. “After all of this is over, I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Colorado. I also plan on being part of the important national conversation on how we can continuously improve and how we might treat each other with respect and love.”

Duran, a Denver Democrat, stripped Lebsock of a committee chairmanship and called on him to resign his seat soon after allegations emerged he had made unwanted and aggressive sexual advances on state Rep. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, in a Nov. 10 story reported by KUNC’s Bente Birkeland. (Winter is one of two Democrats running in a primary for the Senate District 24 seat held by Republican incumbent Beth Martinez Humenik, one of only a handful of swing Senate seats on next year’s ballot.)

In addition, eight lobbyists and legislative staffers who weren’t named told Birkeland that Lebsock had “harassed, intimidated or made unwanted sexual advances” on them, she reported, and four of the lobbyists said they’d considered filing complaints against the lawmaker but worried it could harm their careers.

Lebsock has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said Tuesday he stands ready to cooperate with an investigation into formal complaints filed against him earlier this month by Winter and a former lobbyist who alleges Lebsock carried on inappropriate, sexually charged conversations with her.

Other prominent Democrats, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll, have also called on Lebsock to resign. Several Democratic legislators joined the chorus, and at least a couple of them said they plan to initiate expulsion proceedings against Lebsock if he’s still in office when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Three other Colorado legislators have been hit in recent weeks with allegations they sexually harassed staffers, interns or political associates.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.