Report details alleged sexual harassment ahead of vote to oust Rep. Steve Lebsock
One accuser gives media report finding sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Steve Lebsock credible
As House lawmakers were voting on bills Wednesday morning, Rep. Steve Lebsock was walking around the chamber showing a 2015 calendar to colleagues. The calendar kept by his ex-wife, he says, is an important piece of evidence overlooked in an investigation that found allegations of sexual harassment against him to be credible.
The Thornton Democrat was making his case in advance of Friday’s scheduled vote to remove him from office in wake of a 35-page report by a private legal firm that reviewed 11 allegations of sexual harassment by five women. The investigator found all allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred, prompting House leadership to introduce a resolution to expel Lebsock from office. An expulsion would be historic; no lawmaker has been expelled from office since 1915.
The Denver Post is keeping a tally of where lawmakers stand ahead of Friday’s vote. Democratic leadership is pushing for the expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote. To reach that threshold Democrats need at least eight Republicans to join them. Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, are leaning toward a no vote, saying the process has lacked transparency and that lawmakers have not had enough time to review the report.
A redacted version of the report by the Employers Council was released to House leadership and the women who filed the complaints on Monday. One of the women released the report to the media on Wednesday.
In a memo to House lawmakers, Becker said the report shows a pattern of sexual harassment in which Lebsock used his position of authority to ask for sexual favors.
She also cited Lebsock’s threat to sue Rep. Faith Winter, a comment he made on a recent episode of the Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara, as an example of retaliation, which she said is prohibited under the state’s harassment policy. This, she says, was intended to dissuade others from coming forward with complaints.
The investigator, who is not named in the report, found that the stories of the accusers were “more likely than not” to have occurred in all 11 allegations. Below is a summary of the allegations from the report. The report does not identify Lebsock or any of the women by name, but at least three of the complaints had been publicly reported.
The complaints and Lebsock’s defense
The report states that in 2015, a woman — now identified as Cassie Tanner, a former legislative aide— was at a Colorado Young Democrats party at The 1up bar in Denver when Lebsock unbuttoned the top button of her shirt. She slapped his hand away, the report states, and he laughed.
Lebsock says he was not at the party that year. He points to the calendar he was showing lawmakers Wednesday to make his case that he was home that day. The investigator questioned the reliability of this calendar because Lebsock gave her a photocopy, not the original. Lebsock said he was told he could provide a photocopy.
In another allegation, according to the report, a former animal welfare lobbyist says she was having lunch with Lebsock at a restaurant near the Capitol when he brought up having sex with him, to which the lobbyist replied, “No, that’s off the table.” She said Lebsock then said, “It doesn’t have to be on the table.” The account matches up with reporting by The Denver Post that identifies the lobbyist as Holly Tarry.
In Lebsock’s version of the meeting, according to the report, he said he and Tarry were talking about her sex life with her husband and he kiddingly said, “Why don’t you and I give it a try?”
In 2016, another incident took place at Stoney’s Bar and Grill for the annual Sine Die Party involving Winter. At this party, Lebsock asked Winter to leave the bar with him and made sexual comments like “if you came with me right now I could make you happy and do things to you that your husband wouldn’t,” the report states. The report also states he grabbed her arm and touched her lower back or upper buttocks. Others at the bar this night reported seeing Winter wide-eyed and startled when talking to Lebsock, the report states.
Lebsock has used the results of a lie detector test to assert his innocence while claiming that the allegations against him are politically motivated. Winter is challenging Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik, R-Thornton, for her competitive Senate seat. He says Democrats are siding with Winter to help her win the seat so they can take back control of the Senate.
There are two other allegations in the report involving women who have not been publicly identified by name. One woman who helped Lebsock in his race for state treasurer until November 2017, when allegations first emerged, alleges he asked her to be his “fuck buddy,” which Lebsock denies saying, according to the report. Another woman who was working with Lebsock on a marijuana bill in 2015 said he asked her to have sex, according to the report. Lebsock said this is a lie.
Tanner, the former legislative aide who alleges Lebsock opened a button on her shirt and commented on her breasts, told The Colorado Independent in an email on Wednesday that she and the four other victims wanted the report to be public, saying, that “Steve Lebsock needs to be held accountable.”
Title Photo: Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, was showing a calendar to colleagues, including Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, on Wednesday to make the case that the allegations of sexual harassment against him are false ahead of a vote to remove him from office on Friday. Photo by John Herrick
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