THe Colorado House of Representatives expelled one of its own members over allegations of sexual harassment following more than six hours of emotional debate on Friday.
The vote was 52 to 9 -- well above the 44 votes needed to expel a member from office.
“I am just so happy that this chamber took action,” Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminister) said. “Today’s vote was a courageous vote.”
Winter is one of five women who filed formal complaints against Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton). The complaints ranged from propositioning the women for sex to unbuttoning the top button of a woman's blouse.
An outside investigator spent three months investigating those claims and determined that in all 11 situations it was “more likely than not” that the events happened as the women described them.
The vote wasn't a certainty at the beginning of the day.
Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) grew increasingly emotional as he talked about loyalty and how he's always looked to see the best in people.
"I came in here as a no vote today," Liston said. "After listening to this, I will be yes vote."
He's not the only Republican to change his or her mind during the course of the six-hour debate.
Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Colorado Springs) started the day by asking to be allowed not to vote.
“I’m not comfortable with either vote,” Landgraf said. “I’m not convinced that all the information has been made available.”
By Friday afternoon Landgraf became the first female Republican in the House to announce her intention to vote yes on the resolution to expel Lebsock.
Many of the Republicans who votes to expel the Thornton Democrat cited a 28-page document he put in the mailbox of each lawmaker before the start of the session. The document contained lurid details about the sex lives of his accusers.
"The critical fact for me is not the date of that document," Rep. Cole Wist (R-Centennial) said. "The critical fact is that he sent it."
One of the most emotional moments of the day came when two Democratic lawmakers admitted they’ve been wearing bulletproof vests around the Capitol because they’ve feared retaliation by Lebsock.
"I'm in the chamber of the House of Representative, and I’m wearing a bullet proof vest because I fear retaliation for telling the truth and standing up for victims of sexual harassment," Garnett said. "I've been wearing it for three weeks.
Lebsock maintained his innocence throughout this process. He criticized the process throughout the debate, saying the investigator was biased against him.
"Some of my witnesses were not contacted," Lebsock siad. "Members this is not due process. Let’s hold ourselves to the highest standard."
But by the end of the day Lebsock seemed resined to his fate, saying he knew the vote count and didn't want any sympathy votes as he teared up on the floor of the House.
“It’s been the honor of my life to serve the people of Colorado,” he said.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
When a lawmaker is expelled from the Colorado legislature, their seat becomes vacant immediately and that member's party convenes a committee to select his or her replacement.
Friday morning that would have been the Democrat's job, but Lebsock changed his party affiliation to Republican about an hour before the vote.
It's unclear what exactly will happen, but it's looking like this means the Republicans will pick the person to fill the seat.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) told 9NEWS that Lebsock handed him a piece of paper showing that he had switched party affiliations to Republican moments before the vote to expel.
Neville, who voted against expelling Lebsock, said he doesn't think any other members of his party knew before they voted.
"As far as Lebsock goes, the Republicans can have him. As far as the seat, we're looking into it," Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Eric Walker said. "Either way, we're confident the district will be represented by a Democrat by the time the next session begins."
RAW VIDEO: Lebsock speaks on House floor at expulsion hearing