Sen. Randy Baumgardner removed from committee assignments after latest harassment report

DENVER – Colorado state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, was stripped of his remaining Senate committee assignments this week by the Senate president after outside investigators found several workplace harassment complaints filed against him were credible.

Sean Paige, the spokesperson for Senate Republicans, confirmed that Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, had removed Baumgardner from the Capital Development, Transportation Legislation Review, Water Resources Review and Wildfire Matters Review committees – interim committees which meet outside of the General Assembly’s regular session.

Grantham’s letter to legislative council informing them of his decision was first reported by KUNC.

“It’s never pleasant meting out punishments of this sort to colleagues but the three of us who were tasked with making this decision are comfortable that it was justified in this case,” Grantham said in a statement to Denver7.

Another letter obtained by KUNC shows that Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, has been appointed as vice chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Grantham, in his statement to Denver7, also thanked Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia for his work with Grantham and Holbert for his work in deciding Baumgardner's fate.

“Minority Leader Leroy Garcia’s participation in the process was of great help in bringing this matter to a speedy conclusion, so I want to extend a special thank you to him,” Grantham told Denver7 in a statement.

Grantham said after the latest report affirming claims made against Baumgardner “more likely than not” were founded that he wouldn’t seek Baumgardner’s resignation.

At least eight women claimed Baumgardner created a hostile work environment at the Capitol, and he was forced to step down as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee after the initial complaints were deemed to be credible.

Baumgardner has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and was not immediately available for comment Thursday, according to Paige.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted in early April not to expel Baumgardner over other allegations made by a legislative aide who claimed Baumgardner slapped her buttocks.

Garcia was appointed after Sen. Lucia Guzman of Denver stepped down as minority leader, citing frustrations with how Republicans handled the claims against Baumgardner and other GOP lawmakers. Earlier in the session, House Democrats expelled their own member, Rep. Steve Lebsock, over sexual harassment allegations that were deemed credible. He switched to the Republican party after his expulsion. 

Senate Democrats weren’t ready to accept overtures Thursday.

“We’ve been saying it since the first report came back in February and we’ll say it again now: Senator Baumgardner needs to resign. This doesn’t change anything,” Mansur Gidfar, the spokesperson for Senate Democrats, told Denver7.

New Senate leadership will be picked for the 2019 legislative session. A report ordered to flesh out the harassment at the Capitol and make changes to policy was delivered in early April, and lawmakers say they will continue working on the next steps in the process throughout the year.

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