Littwin: Not sure we needed the lesson, but Baumgardner shows us how not to apologize

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, on the Senate floor on the opening day of the 2018 legislative session on Jan. 10. Photo by John Herrick

If there’s anything we’ve learned during the #MeToo movement, it’s how to apologize and how not to.

And so I think we can all agree that the apology/explanation/dodge from Sen. Randy Baumgardner is a prime example in the how-not-to category. And the follow-up from Senate President Kevin Grantham, who administered the so-called “punishment” to Baumgardner, was even worse. Much worse.

Here’s where we are: Following a third-party finding that it was “more likely than not” that Baumgardner had, in fact, slapped and grabbed the buttocks of a legislative aide during the 2016 session, a shaken Baumgardner met the press.

He said he was stepping down from his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee and that he had agreed to do some sensitivity training. We’d better hope the training is good because Baumgardner said he was accepting the punishment despite the fact he had nothing wrong — and that he just wanted to get the thing over with. What’s the training protocol for that?

By insisting that he had done nothing wrong means, Baumgardner was, of course, accusing the aide of lying. But he left his own accusations for the third-party investigation, which he said was “flawed, inaccurate, incomplete and biased.”

Told you, it had better be some really, really good training.

Why the investigators would be biased, I have no idea. What was inaccurate about the report, I have no idea. Baumgardner didn’t say. And not only didn’t Baumgardner say, he then refused to take any questions.

Meanwhile, Grantham and Majority Leader Chris Holbert made public a letter to Baumgardner saying the third-party report was filled with “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest and inconsistencies.” What the letter from the GOP leadership didn’t say was whether Baumgardner had slapped anyone’s ass. Or how the report was biased. And what was the conflict of interest.

It also didn’t say whether the leaders thought the bipartisan issue of harassment was a problem at the Capitol, even though three senators (and two representatives) have been accused.

Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced a bill to expel Baumgardner. It is not likely to go anywhere, which is not to say that Baumgardner’s position is safe.

Megan Creeden, a legislative staffer, has now filed a separate complaint against Baumgardner, who offered up the pre-emptive “if I offended anyone” non-apology apology.

So, we get this from Baumgardner: “If I did anything at all offensive to you or suggestive that you thought was offensive, I want to apologize to you — or to anyone else that I’ve been here at the Capitol with, if I’ve said anything that could be perceived as offensive, I want to apologize to them as well.”

If you’re confused as to what Baumgardner was apologizing for and who else might have been offended over exactly what behavior, that was exactly the point — to claim innocence without actually addressing the accusations. No wonder Baumgardner wasn’t taking any questions.

If there’s anything else we’ve learned from the #MeToo movement, it’s that the outrage doesn’t go away. In Baumgardner’s case, the new complaint will only bring new questions — which eventually he’ll have to answer and, most likely, have to answer for.

Photo by John Herrick


  1. Thank you for this article – and finally it comes out about vulnerable legislative aides enduring this type of sexual abuse by men like Baumgardner. This has gone on for years under the gold dome and hushed up. Expect more victims to surface!

  2. Well, here we were debating whether or not RB qualified as an official a-hole, and he went ahead and removed any remaining doubt.

    Yes, for our snowflakes out there, if you abuse women, you’re going to wear the Brown A for life.

  3. Bullshit. When a teacher (another public servant) offends someone in their field of work, it’s guilty, guilty, guilty before proven innocent. Thanks CDE. And that guilty before proven innocent teacher is fired, fined, or imprisoned. At the least, he or she loses a credential for life.

    Then we have some jack ass like bum gardener who preys on, ogles, slaps and pinches, lusts after, and sexually molests a young woman (do not normalize slapping and pinching — it’s sexual molestation) and his wingnut colleagues who are in positions of power, protect him from accountability.

    You people under that Colorado capital dome are no better than Roy Moore, Al Franken, and those other deplorables, and those accomplices who tried to protect them.

    Fire, fine, and imprison Colorado “leaders” who break laws that would fire fine and Imprison regular citizens who do the same.

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