Democratic Senator Daniel Kagan to resign

The attorney from Cherry Hills Village focused much of his work on criminal justice issues but was embattled by a restroom controversy

Sen. Daniel Kagan in the Senate on March 26, 2018. (Photo by John Herrick)

State Sen. Daniel Kagan is resigning from the state legislature after serving for nearly a decade.

The Democrat from Cherry Hills Village said in a statement Wednesday, “it’s time to pass the torch to new leadership.” His statement did not mention his future plans. The resignation is effective Jan. 11. 

His statement did not address an accusation that he used a women’s restroom multiple times during the 2017 legislative session, allegations that entangled the senator in controversy for much of the last session.

The decision to resign comes after Democrats retook control of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time since 2014. In the Senate, Democrats will have a 19-16 majority when the session gavels in on Jan. 4.

Kagan, who represents the suburbs south of Denver, was appointed to a House seat in 2009 and reelected three times before his election to the Senate in 2016. He served as chair of the House Judiciary Committee and is a member of Senate Judiciary Committee.

The attorney who was born in England focused much of his work in the legislature on criminal justice issues. This record included backing legislation to end the use of jails for mental health holds and opposing funding for expanding state prison capacity. 

Earlier this year, an investigation by a private legal firm determined that Kagan “more likely than not” used a women’s restroom three times during the 2017 legislative session. Kagan has said he used the restroom once by accident.

Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, a Republican from Thornton who filed the formal complaint against Kagan earlier this year, said in a statement, “I asked for a public apology to all involved, not a resignation. We are all still waiting on his apology.”

Martinez Humenik lost her reelection bid to Rep. Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster, who was instrumental in this year’s historic expulsion of former Rep. Steve Lebsock over allegations that he sexual harassed five women, including Winter. 

The expulsion was emblematic of a 2018 session rattled by sexual harassment scandals involving five lawmakers.

Kagan did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

In a statement, he said it’s been a great honor to serve the people of Colorado for just short of a decade.

“I am comfortable with my decision, largely because I know that we have no shortage of individuals in Arapahoe County who would do a superb job of representing the people of Senate District 26,” he said. 

Rep. Jeff Bridges, a Democrat from Greenwood Village who serves in Kagan’s former House seat, has said he is interested in running for the seat.

The seat will be filled by a vacancy committee next year.  

Kagan is the third state senator to resign this year.

Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat from Louisville, is leaving to serve as a county commissioner in Boulder County and Sen. John Kefalas, a Democrat from Fort Collins, is leaving to serve as a county commissioner in Larimer County.

1 COMMENT

  1. This article is discouraging in that it is superficial and confusing. More like USA Today than what I expect from the CO Independent. What of Kagan’s hard work and accolades? What does using a women’s restroom mean? What occurred? I use a men’s restroom any time the line for the ladies is too long. Is that a crime? Ineffective reporting.

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