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