Sen. Baumgardner created offensive work environment, investigation finds, adding to list of alleged sexual misconduct

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

This story was updated on April 24 to include a link to the investigative findings, which were made public on Tuesday. 

Senator Randy Baumgardner is in the spotlight again over allegations of sexual misconduct. But the Republican from Hot Sulphur Springs, who kept his seat after an expulsion vote earlier this month, may be in the clear with two weeks left in the legislative session.

Senate President Kevin Grantham told reporters on Monday he won’t ask Baumgardner to resign after an independent investigator found new allegations of sexual misconduct to be credible.

Democrats, who already pushed to expel Baumgardner over allegations that he slapped and grabbed the butt of a former aide in 2016, cannot pursue another expulsion resolution; the deadline to introduce a resolution was on April 9.

“The Senate president needs to exercise his leadership with integrity to hold people accountable,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora. “I’ve done everything I can do to try to convince the body to try to expel him.”

KUNC’s Bente Birkeland reported that an investigation by Alternative Dispute Resolution Inc., an independent firm based in Littleton, validated two additional complaints of sexual misconduct against Baumgardner. One complaint alleges that he created a hostile and offensive work environment, earning the nickname “boob grabber” for how his hands allegedly brushed a woman’s breasts after a hug, according to KUNC. In a second complaint found credible, KUNC reported Baumgardner acted inappropriately when he allegedly made a sexual comment to a former intern, Megan Creeden, and pressured her to drink with him in his office.

Birkeland posted the two investigative findings on Tuesday after the accusers said they wanted them to be made public. 

Grantham, who decides whether any disciplinary action is necessary, said he is still reviewing the reports.  

He said the latest investigations were “done in a much more professional manner” than another investigation by a separate firm, the Employers Council. On Feb. 13, Grantham called an investigation by the Employers Council biased and inaccurate when dismissing a previous complaint against Baumgardner.

The ADR reports were submitted to the Secretary of the Senate Effie Ameen on March 30. The reports did not include a response from Baumgardner, however. Baumgardner’s interviews were included in supplemental reports submitted on April 16. 

On April 2, the resolution to expel Baumgardner over a separate allegation was scheduled for a vote in the Senate. It was voted down mostly along party lines. Grantham told reporters on Monday that he had “no knowledge” a report was available when the resolution was introduced.

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, who controls the Senate calendar, said he did not make the decision to introduce the resolution. Instead, he said, the secretary of the Senate and the Senate president organize when resolutions are introduced. (Ahead of the legislative session, however, Holbert asked lawmakers to send calendaring requests for resolutions to his office and aide, according to a Jan. 3 memo to lawmakers obtained by Birkeland of KUNC.)

Baumgardner could not be reached for comment by the time this story was published, but has denied prior allegations.

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