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Colorado House Speaker Duran, other members chosen for legislative workplace harassment review

May 31, 2018 Updated: May 31, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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photo - Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran addresses the Colorado House of Representatives for the Opening Day of the 2018 Colorado Legislature on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.  (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)
Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran addresses the Colorado House of Representatives for the Opening Day of the 2018 Colorado Legislature on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran and five other legislators will review Statehouse workplace harassment policies on a committee this summer, Colorado Politics has learned.

Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs and Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton will represent Senate Republicans on the Legislative Workplace Interim Study Committee, announced Senate President Kevin Grantham.

Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone will represent House Republicans, spokesman Joel Malecka said.

Senate Democrats will be represented by Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, chosen as an LGBT representative and a person of color, said spokesman Mansur Gidfar.

Duran and Rep. Faith Winter of Thornton will represent House Democrats.

Winter is challenging Martinez Humenik for her Adams County Senate seat in the November election. Sure to become an issue is Martinez Humenik's "no" vote to expel Sen. Randy Baumgardner over sexual harassment allegations.

Grantham, of Cañon City, said he chose Gardner for his "acumen as a lawyer" and Martinez Humenik for the "female perspective," as well as her position as a "contact person" under the current policy and "real-world view of the complaint review process."

Martinez Humenik filed a complaint against Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village, saying he used an unmarked women's restroom in 2017. Kagan said he did so once, but a voicemail between a State Patrol member and Effie Ameen, secretary of the Senate, indicated he did so more than once.

Kagan has not been accused of doing anything improper in the bathroom, which since has been clearly labeled as a women's restroom.

Duran said: "I have spent a great deal of time dealing with the impacts of workplace harassment in the Colorado House of Representatives, and I have seen the damage and pain it can cause. I want to end my term as speaker with a clear path forward on reforms that will change the culture of the Capitol and preserve the integrity of the Legislature.

"Rep. Winter, who showed this session that she is a powerful voice for victims of workplace harassment, will be a key advocate and partner on this important committee."

The panel is to meet at least five times and recommend changes to the Legislature's workplace harassment policy. Those recommendations will be forwarded to the next Legislature, which starts Jan. 4.

Grantham said he asked Gardner and Martinez Humenik to serve because of their unique backgrounds and personal commitment to "ensuring that the harassment prevention policies we will eventually put in place will serve as a national model that will make Coloradans proud."

Martinez Humenik said she wants to bring "more clarity, transparency and consistency to policies and procedures that some have found confusing" and "more precision to how certain behaviors are defined under Statehouse policy," such as the difference between rude or insensitive behavior, workplace harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Gardner said he wants to focus on more rigorous due-process protections.

Winter's sexual harassment allegations launched the Capitol's #MeToo movement, which led to several misconduct complaints against then-Rep. Steve Lebsock. He was expelled from the Legislature on March 2 for those claims and his alleged efforts to retaliate against his accusers.

Three Senate Republicans were accused of sexual harassment. Grantham dismissed the cases against Larry Crowder of Alamosa and Jack Tate of Centennial.

But allegations against Baumgardner of sexual harassment and creating a hostile workplace environment were filed by partisan and non-partisan Senate staffers and were found credible in three investigations by two third-party organizations.

Martinez Humenik said she voted not to expel Baumgardner because she didn't believe the evidence supported the allegations.

In the wake of the last two investigations, which came to light nine days later, Grantham stripped Baumgardner of all interim summer committee assignments and his position on the Capital Development Committee.

Baumgardner already had stepped down as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and his role as sponsor of the top priority bill for Senate Republicans - Senate Bill 1, which put $495 million into transportation - appeared markedly reduced. Senate Democrats called his punishment a slap on the wrist.

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