Spoiler alert for all of you who thought the shameful sexual harassment scandal at the state Capitol couldn’t get any more lurid or repulsive.
It’s all-out bedlam between the state Senate Democrats and Republicans as the skirmish over the fate of three Republican senators accused of sexual harassment turns into all-out war.
Republicans yesterday accused Democratic state Sen. Daniel Kagan of regularly and purposely hanging out in a women’s restroom in the Senate. Kagan, who represents part of Aurora, had torn into the three accused GOP pervs last week during a blistering and momentarily unseemly sermon on the Senate floor.
Kagan told KUNC Public Radio reporter Bente Birkeland — who’s made a regular reporter’s beat out of the Colorado Capitol #MeToo plague — and the Denver Post that this is lies, all lies. And he says it in his most convincing and haughty English accent. Kagan says Republicans are lying to draw attention away from GOP state senators Randy Baumgardner, Jack Tate and Larry Crowder, who’ve each had independent investigators say sexual harassment allegations against them are credible.
Did it get your attention? It got mine. They’re saying Kagan is a bathroom creeper, which is hardly a sexual harassment issue but definitely akin to the kind of thing that pretty much ruined Pee Wee Herman for good.
Doubling down on what was first a pretty slanderous sounding aside by GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham, state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, filed a formal harassment complaint Monday. She said she was undone one time when she first saw men’s shoes in the stall next to her in the said Senate bathroom, and then completely undone when she discovered the shoes were on the feet of a man. And that man was Kagan.
Kagan said he accidentally used the women’s restroom once last year when he first moved from the House to the Senate, and he told reporters it was an embarrassment that could happen only one time. Pictures abounded on the intertubes yesterday pointing out that the door is not marked men’s or women’s, and it is right by the men’s room, which is also not marked.
The entire trip-to-my-loo tirade is tied to a move by Senate Democrats to oust Baumgardner. Baumgardner, from northwest Colorado, was accused last year of sexually harassing state staffers, slapping a woman on the buttocks and making lewd and suggestive remarks. An independent investigation of the charges were deemed credible.
Baumgardner has denied any wrongdoing, which is troubling because he clearly thinks there’s nothing wrong with that kind of thing. Grantham obviously agrees, because he’s done pretty much nothing about it, unceremoniously tap dancing around “real” crimes and the district attorney and other assorted nonsense. Democrats? They think butt-slapping and perving the female staffers and lobbyists warrants eviction.
Grantham balked about the disciplinary process in February and then sort of accepted Baumgardner’s offer to step down from one of three leadership positions he held, as some kind of grudging justice. Baumgardner, and other accused lawmakers, has steadfastly refused calls from Democrats for his resignation.
And so for weeks, Democrats daily demand an expulsion hearing on the Senate floor, similar to the one earlier this month in the state House that resulted in the astonishing ouster of Democratic state Rep. Steve Lebsock. A bevy of sexual harassment complains against Lebsock were the foundation for the rare legislative ouster.
Democrats have continued to apply daily, increasing pressure on Grantham for a Senate expulsion hearing.
On Friday, Kagan read state sexual assault law in all its graphic detail for a few moments during a huffy harangue of the Senate for allowing the Baumgardner hanky-spanky incident to go properly unpunished. The brief, gruesome talk of “penetration” et al was clearly a gratuitous attempt to garner attention to his cause.
It worked. What it got him Monday, however, were taunts of alleged hypocrisy, claiming he has no moral ground to stand on and accuse Baumgardner because Kagan is some kind of ladies’ room perv.
It’s out of control down there at the Capitol.
It’s pretty impossible to tell right now if Kagan is a bathroom creeper, but it doesn’t matter as far as taking care of bawdy business gone bad with Baumgardner and Tate. An investigation found that allegations by Capitol staffers and interns were credible that Tate made lewd and suggestive comments to a young female intern, telling her at one point to come see him sometime if she wanted to get ahead.
Grantham and his supporters don’t get that it doesn’t matter what Kagan is accused of doing, Republicans are letting three fellow GOP senators off the hook for the kind of stuff you’d easily get fired for if you got caught doing it at work.
There’s no claiming this is just a partisan issue after House Democrats set fire to Lebsock, one of their own. Key Senate Republicans just don’t think pervy elected officials are anything more than an inconvenience that only voters should deal with. They miss the entire point of the #MeToo movement. They don’t get that this is beyond insulting and degrading. It’s an abuse of their power and positions as elected officials. It really should be a crime.
What’s worse, some Republicans are trying to equate Kagan’s alleged weird bathroom breaks with someone who whacks the ass of a Capitol staffer and makes unwelcome and creepy sexual taunts to unlucky women.
If forced to choose, I’d much rather have my wife or daughter standing shoulder to shoulder with Kagan at the sink in the women’s room than having Baumgardner slap my spouse’s butt or have Tate offer my daughter private career counseling.
Regardless, this has gone too far for too long. Hold the expulsion hearings. Let Republicans extort their caucus into killing it with their one-vote Senate majority, and move on to critical state business.
Better yet, state senators found guilty of these sickening harassment scams should do voters a favor and just go away on their own.
And for God’s sake, put a sign on the damn bathroom doors.
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