Time’s up, a national movement to empower those victimized primarily by sexual harassment, is a phrase perfectly suited to remedy a bad situation at the Colorado State Capitol made intolerable by state Rep. Steve Lebsock.
Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat, is the subject of an investigation and controversy over allegations that he sexually harassed state Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and four other Capitol staffers and lobbyists.
Winter went public late last year with the allegations, in a story first told by Colorado Public Radio reporter Bente Birkeland. Immediately after, the embattled Lebsock, also a candidate for state treasurer, tacitly apologized for his boorish behavior. However, when a crowd of state officials and newspaper editorial boards, including the Aurora Sentinel, demanded his resignation, he changed tactics.
No longer just a lout, he’s become a callous brute.
He has since repeatedly denied allegations made by all five women, despite witness accounts corroborating Winter’s charges. He has offered unconvincing lie-detector tests as evidence in his favor. He has made dubious, vicious counter-allegations, saying that it was actually Winter who propositioned him at various times.
In the weeks following the initial revelations, Lebsock has consistently refused demands that he resign his House seat. Faced with likely and extremely rare expulsion voted on by all members of the House, he has asked for a stay until an official investigation, underway, is complete.
We have consistently observed that the evidence and witness accounts against Lebsock is compelling, and his own subsequent behavior is repugnant. All that has left us, and many others, unwavering in our insistence that Lebsock resign.
But we agreed with him that it would be premature and regrettable for the House itself to take up the “nuclear” expulsion bill and force him from office — before results of the state’s official investigation into the allegations is complete.
We see things very differently now.
As the Legislature began its session last week, Lebsock launched a barrage of defamatory tweets and comments, followed by delivering to fellow lawmakers a hostile 28-page bizarre defense that amounts to a libelous manifesto.
Rather than appearing as a defensive move, Lebsock’s stunt, and his subsequent remarks, make it clear he is much worse than unscrupulous. As Lebsock continues to raise the level of malevolence, he is increasingly dangerous to not only the critical work underway at the Capitol, but to state lawmakers and others at the Capitol.
If Lebsock does not immediately resign, state lawmakers should immediately take up a measure to expel him from the House.
Threats of introducing such a bill on the first day of the legislative session last week did not materialize, prompting even more worrisome social media taunts from Lebsock.
He has gone out of his way to try and ensure all of Colorado might have some lingering doubt about just how repulsive his sexual harassment episodes were, but he leaves no doubt at all at what a vicious, irresponsible and vile person he truly is.
While justice for his victims is an important goal, his expulsion is a matter of the wellbeing of the Legislature and all Colorado residents.
Time’s up. If Lebsock won’t leave, get him out.