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Sen. Baumgardner will leave committee chair after sexual harassment claims deemed credible

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs) said on Tuesday that the Capitol has learned a lot after allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against several members of the state congress.

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R - Hot Sulphur Springs) sat firm in front of allegations of sexual harassment deemed credible by an independent commission and said Tuesday that he was stepping down as chair of the transportation committee.

When asked whether he had considered stepping down as state senator, he said if something else comes up "we will continue to have conversations."

Baumgardner is facing two separate allegations of sexual harassment. First reported by KUNC back in November, seven female lobbyists and staffers who refused to be named said they avoid Baumgardner and some even added they refused to be alone with him.

Republican Senators Randy Baumgardner (left) and Jack Tate. (Photo: Colorado State Government)

The senator said he was unable to publicly respond to these complaints during the review process due to confidentiality agreements, but he said in Tuesday afternoon press conference that they are false.

Baumgardner said he met with Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Las Animas) and agreed to step down as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He did not say he was stepping down as chair of the Capital Development Committee or as vice chair of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy committee.

"I went to see President Grantham to discuss how we can put some of this controversy behind us," he said, referring to the sexual harassment allegations. "It's obvious that it's beginning to impede the important work we do at the Capitol and to our constituents."

He told assembled reporters he would attend sensitivity training.

In a letter signed by both the Senate President and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Highlands Ranch), party leadership considers the investigation done by a third-party contractor biased, riddled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and conflicts of interest.

The letter says leadership intends to talk with the Employee Council - the contractor who it appears investigated the complaints - about their issues with the report.

Baumgardner is requested to take sensitivity training before March 18, per the letter. What sensitivity training would entail was not explained.

KUNC reported Monday that a second person has come forward against Baumgardner with a sexual harassment complaint. Megan Creeden reportedly filed the report "hoping it will trigger something to happen."

She served as an intern for another lawmaker, KUNC reports. She brought up her interaction with Baumgardner - and how he allegedly pressured her to drink with him in his office in 2016 when they didn't know each other - back in November as well.

Baumgardner addressed her directly in his press conference.

"I knew Megan Creeden, we knew each other socially and I respect her a great deal," he said. "I want to take this opportunity to say, Megan, if I did anything at all that was suggestive or that you thought was offensive, I want to apologize to you.

"Or anyone else - I want to apologize to them as well."

He then went on to talk about how "it's been an eye-opening experience for him and everyone else at the State Capitol." He added he's suffered since the allegations became public, including having people look at him differently.

Colorado Senate Democrats said they're drafting a resolution to expel Baumgardner from the chamber.

"Since he has made it clear he will not resign, our caucus is moving forward with a resolution to expel Sen. Baumgardner from the Colorado Senate," reads a tweet their official account sent out. They claim to have the support of all 16 of their senators; the Colorado Senate has 35 total members.

State Rep. Paul Rosenthal

Several other Colorado lawmakers have been accused of sexual misconduct, including fellow Republican lawmaker Jack Tate (R-Centennial).

A former intern who was 18-years-old at the time of the alleged incident told KUNC anonymously that Tate would act inappropriately with her over a two-and-a-half month period last year and once told her to give him a call if she wanted to move up in the world.

Tate texted KUNC in response to the allegations and said he's not aware of making anyone uncomfortable.

"I have the utmost respect for the men and women who I work with on a daily basis," he told KUNC.

State Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D-Denver) is also facing allegations of wrongdoing by Thomas Cavaness at an event in either 2011 or 2012. Rosenthal is accused of touching Cavaness on the small of his back, on his butt and his inner thigh.

Rosenthall denies the allegations.

"Rep. Rosenthal emphasizes that this claim is categorically false and slanderous and that the conduct did not happen," his attorney, Harvey Steinberg wrote in a statement.

Allegations were also brought against State Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton), who had a polygraph test administered on himself and said the results exonerated him of all wrongdoing. He also claimed he was being blackmailed.

“In my judgment, there’s been no sexual harassment. There’s been no sexual harassment and I’ve done nothing criminal,” Lebsock said, adding he’s “extremely sorry that they feel hurt.”

Three women who have worked in the Capitol have come forward in the media with harassment allegations. One of them, State Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) filed a formal complaint with the Colorado legislature back in November.

Lebsock has refused to step down.

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