Top Dem Leader Resigns Amid Sex Allegation

“State Representative Michael Garcia is resigning, effective immediately.  He will release a statement later today.”

4:30 P.M. UPDATE; Garcia has issued a statement, claiming the conduct between himself and the “other party” was “consensual,” though inappropriate given his position. “As a result, I have made the difficult decision to resign,” Garcia wrote. More after the jump.Photobucket

Garcia was not at the Capitol today, and his name has already been removed from the voting board.

The news comes the day after a story surfaced that Garcia, 34, the House Assistant Majority Leader from Aurora, had been accused by an unnamed lobbyist of exposing himself to her while drinking and playing pool at the Lancer Lounge, a watering hole in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. According to the report, Garcia exposed himself to the woman and asked, “Wouldn’t this be real nice inside of you?”

The story was first published by the conservative blog FaceTheState and appeared on the front page of today’s Denver Post. According to sources, the incident occurred after a Jan. 7 fundraiser. A lobbyist complained to House Speaker Andrew Romanoff after hearing similar stories of Garcia’s alleged past lewd behavior from other female lobbyists.

Garcia, a seven-year state representative who was planning a run for the state Senate this year, recently became engaged, to another lobbyist.

Yet another lobbyist, who asked to remain unnamed, said late Thursday that she had no direct knowledge of the incident, but that the news wasn’t a complete surprise.

“He’s notorious for hitting on lobbyists,” the woman told Colorado Confidential.

It is unclear whether the woman who complained to Romanoff has filed a police report over the Jan. 7 incident, or whether a criminal investigation will be launched.

In the House, Garcia served on the Appropriations and Finance committees, and on the Legislative Council.


1 P.M. UPDATE: The House Majority Office provided a timeline for replacing Garcia. Still no statement from  Garcia or from Speaker Andrew Romanoff. See below for the notification sent out from the House Majority Office.

1 p.m. UPDATE FROM KATIE REINISCH, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY OFFICE

Next week, the House Majority will caucus to elect a new Assistant Majority Leader. 

Bills that are sponsored by Garcia will soon be assigned by the Speaker to another lawmaker.

Per the usual rules, a vacancy committee will be convened in Aurora to select a new Representative soon.  The Colorado Democratic Party will have more information.

I expect, but cannot promise, to see two more statements today: one from Garcia and one from Speaker Romanoff.  I have no idea what time these will be released.

4:30 P.M. UPDATE
Still no statement from Speaker Romanoff: Through the law firm Reilly Pozner & Connelly, Garcia has issued the following statement:

“Initial press reports are highly inaccurate regarding my alleged conduct,” the statement says. “The other party and I engaged in consensual conduct that was inappropriate given my position in the legislature and the fact that the other party is a lobbyist.

“I do not want this incident to be a barrier to the work of the state of Colorado. Time is precious, and elected officials need to focus on health, fiscal, education and safety issues. The interests of the state are greater than my own.

“As a result, I have made the difficult decision to resign. I apologize for any hardship this has caused my constituents, friends, family and colleagues.”

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