Perlmutter denies offering accused lawmaker Lebsock a job

Author: Joey Bunch - July 25, 2018 - Updated: August 9, 2018

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter speaks at the Jefferson County Democrats’ Italian Feast on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

The Colorado Republican Party on Wednesday called on Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter to explain whether he offered former state Rep. Steve Lebsock a job to avoid a scandal for the Democratic Party.

The offer was alleged to be an incentive for Lebsock to resign, months before he was voted out of the legislature over sexual harassment allegations. Lebsock made that allegation against the congressman from Arvada on a conservative radio show last week.

But Perlmutter’s office flatly denied Lebsock’s account to Colorado Politics Wednesday.

“Ed Perlmutter never offered Mr. Lebsock a job,” said Perlmutter’s congressional spokeswoman Ashley Verville. “What Ed did offer was to help Mr. Lebsock find treatment and counseling to deal with his issues, because Mr. Lebsock created a hostile work environment.

“Mr. Lebsock has clearly chosen a different path, and for many months now we’ve seen Mr. Lebsock make several attempts to distract from his own bad behavior, and this allegation is just another example,” Verville added. “Furthermore, shame on the Republican Party for perpetuating this nonsense and continuing to listen to a guy who is the first legislator to be expelled from the Colorado statehouse in more than 100 years — obviously showing their desperation this election cycle.”

Perlmutter is running for a seventh term representing the suburban 7th Congressional District against Republican Mark Barrington.

Lebsock did not return a call from Colorado Politics

Colorado Republican Party chair Jeff Hays, however, issued a statement Wednesday.

“If Lebsock’s story is true, Congressman Perlmutter’s conduct was highly unethical, to say the very least,” stated Hays. “He offered Lebsock something of monetary value, a job, in exchange for Lebsock sparing their party embarrassment. Shouldn’t Perlmutter at least have to answer the question, ‘Hey Ed, did you really say that?’ The people of the 7th Congressional District deserve to know whether their representative is willing to cut dirty deals behind closed doors.”

Now-former Colorado state Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, listens during a debate in the chamber whether to expel the lawmaker over sexual misconduct allegations from his peers March 2. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Last November, as the scandal was unfolding, Lebsock told Colorado Politics a prominent member of the state party had told him if he resigned there would be a job waiting for him. At the time, Lebsock would not divulge the person’s name.

A week ago he told conservative radio host Karen Kataline it was Perlmutter. You can hear the full interview by clicking here.

“I’m going to be absolutely honest and truthful,” Lebsock told Kataline. “When Ed called me he was trying to be nice, I think, in the beginning, but there were a few red flags during the conversation, one being he said, ‘Look, Steve, let me tell you how these things go.’ He said, ‘First, there’s one accusation, and then if you don’t resign, there will be another person come forward and then another shoe will drop.’ And then I interrupted Ed and I said, “Ed, well, how do you know another shoe is going to drop?’ … I was just real disappointed in that conversation with Ed Perlmutter.”

As to the job offer, Lebsock characterized it this way: “He said, ‘Look, if you resign we’ll make sure you land well and, you know, get a job and all that.’ And I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Ed, there is no way I’m going to resign, because I didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s horrible that the Democrat party here in Colorado is getting behind accusations before there’s even an investigation.”

Ultimately an investigation found his accusers’ account was more credible than his.

Lebsock was expelled from the legislature by fellow members in March over allegations made by five women who said he harassed them. In a day of testimony, some House members who voted against Lebsock said he lost their support because of his repeated attempts to retaliate against his accusers by publicly attacking their character.

Lebsock denied any misbehavior, beyond misjudging friendships, and ascribed lies and political motives to the charges against him.

Minutes before the expulsion vote was taken —  he was ousted 52-9 — Lebsock left the chamber and went to the Secretary of State’s office to switch his affiliation from Democrat to Republican. That allowed a GOP vacancy committee to fill his seat in Thornton with Republican Alexander “Skinny” Winkler, though Democrats still maintained a seven-seat majority in the chamber.

In the interview on northern Colorado station Fox News Radio 600 KCOL, Lebsock said state Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll called him and urged him to resign, because all the party women’s groups “are mobilizing against you.” Numerous Democratic Party leaders, including Gov. John Hickenlooper and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, urged him to resign before he was expelled.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.