I’m not buying the latest Republican histrionics over state Sen. Daniel Kagan’s trip to the loo, and you shouldn’t either.
Sorry, but we’re gonna have some icky potty talk here.
Some Republican state lawmakers are trying to make hay, again, with the Kagan dust-up over where at the Capitol Kagan takes his bio breaks. They’re conflating Peegate or #PeeToo as a scandalous story related to this year’s sordid tales of sexual harassment and borderline sexual assault at the Colorado Legislature.
It’s not any of those things. It’s just stupid. It’s not #MeToo.
Republicans in May accused Kagan of regularly and purposely hanging out in a women’s bathroom in the Senate. At the time, he admitted that he went one time in 2017 into what was then an unmarked bathroom upstairs near Senate offices, which pretty much everyone knew was supposed to be a ladies room.
And then all hell broke loose.
Peegate came on the heels of real scandal this year. Two Democratic House members and three Republican state senators were the subject of repugnant sexual harassment accusations and subsequent investigations.
Democratic state Rep. Steve Lebsock was thrown out of the House because of his clear-cut transgressions. Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran was muddied by the scandal, knowing for months what Lebsock had done and still allowing him to chair a powerful committee.
The allegations were just as revolting in the state Senate. GOP State Sen. Randy Baumgardner was accused of a long list of bizarre and disturbing stunts, including paddling a woman on the butt. An independent investigation into the allegations found them credible. What was incredible was that then GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham did little about it. Nor did he do much about a similar investigation into sexual harassment allegations against state Sen. Jack Tate, which another investigator found credible.
Toward the end of the session, as Senate Democrats upped the ante and began to apply real pressure to force Grantham to act — all while the #MeToo scandal roiled across the country — Kagan went nuclear on the Senate floor.
Kagan delivered a scathing speech to the Senate filled with vulgarities and explicit language from state law in an attempt to force Grantham’s hand.
Days later, he was defending himself against allegations he was a bathroom bandit, appearing regularly in the women’s room.
Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, filed a formal workplace harassment complaint against Kagan. She said she was a little 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.
An internal investigation completed at the end of May found allegations credible that Kagan may have used the ladies room three times in 2017. Kagan maintains it was just that once. And, by the way, Sen. Kagan, please call.
So all this exploded again this week just as new GOP Senate leaders got caught making fun on their Facebook pages of the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations.
Please end this.
I’m sure Senate Dems and even Kagan will stipulate it was at best awkward for Kagan to stop by the ladies room, once, twice or thrice in 2017.
But for anyone to equate their embarrassing potty breaks, and whatever kind of PTSD the incident gave Humenik, with the ghastly sexual harassment and hanky spanky antics that other state lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, undoubtedly thought they were getting away with, is unconscionable.
Kagan’s weird trip to their loo is not sexual harassment. My sympathies to Humenik and the millions and millions of Americans who have a wide range of bathroom issues. I come from a generation that survived Denver’s Rock Island, nights out with pals at gay and lesbian bars, and numerous trips to Europe and other global bathrooms that are certainly the worst nightmare of many.
But any discomfort caused to me or others is nothing compared to state lawmakers getting their jollies by saying or doing what they want with female lobbyists, fellow lawmakers or staffers, because they knew they could get away with it.
Peegate is nothing more than a sign of how dysfunctional the Colorado Legislature is, and how lawmakers need to take sexual harassment seriously.
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