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Steve Lebsock calls it ‘disgusting’ that foes just want to ’score political points’ bashing Lori Saine

Author: Ernest Luning - December 9, 2017 - Updated: December 11, 2017

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State Reps. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, and Lori Saine, R-Firestone. (Colorado Politics file photos)State Reps. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, and Lori Saine, R-Firestone. (Colorado Politics file photos)

State Rep. Steve Lebsock, the Thornton Democrat facing complaints he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker and a former lobbyist, on Friday chastised social media denizens who’ve been heaping criticism on state Rep. Lori Saine, the Firestone Republican arrested and jailed this week at Denver International Airport for bringing a loaded handgun to a security checkpoint.

Lebsock, who has denied allegations against him and rejected calls to resign his seat or end his campaign for state treasurer, told Colorado Politics he thinks the steady, profuse attacks on Saine by her political opponents demonstrate what’s wrong with politics and help explain why Americans have lost faith in the system.

“For some to simply want to score political points and bash someone over Twitter is disgusting,” Lebsock said in an interview.

Noting that he often found himself on the other side of a political question from Saine, Lebsock said he was appalled at the spectacle of her detractors gleefully piling on.

“I sincerely believe that conversations and discussions and debates about firearms safety are legitimate and healthy to have, but simply scoring political points and bashing people on Twitter really is telling,” he said. “It shows how in politics, unfortunately, it’s become all about winning, and it doesn’t matter how nasty your side gets as long as your side wins. And that’s just wrong. And that’s the reason why people in Colorado and around the country have absolutely no faith in the political system anymore.”

Lebsock, a retired Marine who’s voted contrary to the Democratic party line on gun issues a few times over the years, said he’d only read news accounts about Saine’s arrest but was convinced her possession of the pistol was legal — up to the point she walked into the TSA checkpoint.

“It’s obvious to me the firearm was legal,” Lebsock said. “My understanding is Lori has a permit to carry (a concealed handgun). It appears to me it may have been a simple mistake, that she forgot to take her legal firearm out of her bag before she got to the airport. I think it’s fairly straightforward. I believe it’s a good thing that women and people in general believe that it’s OK to have a firearm for their safety.”

Nearly as soon as word broke Tuesday afternoon that Saine — a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights consistently ranked among of the Legislature’s most conservative members — had been arrested for a firearms violation, her name began trending locally on Twitter, and it didn’t stop until hours after she’d been released from jail following a bond hearing the next afternoon. Charges are pending.

Many of the tweets were from news outlets reporting details about her arrest as they emerged: Saine’s lawyer said she’d forgotten the gun was in her purse, for instance, and police said they’ve responded to more than 100 felony weapons violations at DIA this year but Saine was only the second person they’ve arrested. But plenty more came from gun control advocates and other political adversaries who argued Saine had disqualified herself from setting gun safety policy, among other jabs.

ProgressNow Colorado, an aggressive left-leaning advocacy group, slapped the hashtag #GOPCrimeWeek over Saine’s mugshot alongside a photograph of former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve Curtis, who was convicted Thursday of vote fraud and felony forgery for filling out his ex-wife’s ballot and voting it last fall. The liberal Colorado Pols blog posted Saine’s mugshot with the words “Thug Life” and graphic sunglasses superimposed on her image.

Saine didn’t respond to Colorado Politics’ requests for comment.

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.