#MeTooLegislatureNews

Lebsock, former aide circulated petitions for Dem candidate in House race

Author: Marianne Goodland - May 22, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

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LebsockState Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, talks with reporters on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, about a polygraph exam he took that he says disproves allegations in a complaint filed by state Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, that he sexaully harassed her. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Former Colorado state Rep. Steve Lebsock, in one of his final acts as a Democrat before being ousted from the legislature, helped a fellow Democrat with her eye on his former House seat collect signatures to get onto the ballot.

Lebsock was booted from the General Assembly on March 2 for allegedly sexually harassing, then retaliating against a fellow lawmaker and other women at the Capitol. An hour before the 52-9 vote, he switched his party affiliation to Republican, leaving the choice of who would fill the vacancy to the Republican Party.

Perhaps his final gift to the Democratic Party was to help a Democrat running for his Thornton House seat. Lebsock and his by-then former legislative aide, Elizabeth Strickland, collected signatures on behalf of Jacque Phillips, who made the ballot on April 19 with 883 valid signatures — just 12 more than required.

Lebsock’s signatures were all collected in February, before he changed party affiliation, although he didn’t sign the affidavit for those petitions until March 3, the day after making the switch.

It’s perfectly legit, says the secretary of state’s office, because he collected the signatures when he was still a Democrat.

Strickland’s role is more interesting. She registered as an unaffiliated voter in January 2017 but switched her voter registration to the Democratic Party on Feb. 15, 2018. She began collecting petition signatures on Phillip’s behalf less than two weeks later, beginning around March 1 and continuing through March 20.

Strickland doesn’t live in House District 34; she’s a resident of Denver and has been for years, according to voter registration information. According to the Secretary of State’s TRACER campaign finance system, Lebsock paid Strickland $8,200 out of his state treasurer campaign funds in the first three months of 2018. That represented just under a third of the total that Lebsock raised for the campaign.

Strickland turned in 406 of Phillips’ 883 signatures, more than anyone else collecting petitions on Phillips’ behalf. Lebsock submitted 52 signatures and Phillips turned in 168.

Phillips told Colorado Politics that Strickland was one of many people who stepped up to help with obtaining signatures after Phillips had surgery early on in the campaign and couldn’t walk. She did not otherwise appear to know Strickland personally.

Colorado Politics could not reach Strickland for comment.

Phillips will face Kyle Mullica for the June 26 primary. Mullica won top-line placement on the ballot in the Democratic primary at the party’s district assembly.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.