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Colorado Rep. Steve Lebsock says he won't resign, will continue to run for treasurer

November 28, 2017 Updated: November 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm
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State Rep. Steve Lebsock said Tuesday he's eager to tell investigators his side of the story as they examine complaints he sexually harassed a fellow Democratic legislator and a former lobbyist. The Thornton Democrat also said he intends to resist calls to resign from the legislature and plans to continue campaigning for state treasurer.

Lebsock also charged he's being pressured to resign quickly - including by a prominent Colorado Democrat who has offered him a job as a reward - in order to help one of his accusers win a crucial Senate seat that could determine which party controls the Legislature after next year's election.

In a lengthy statement posted to his campaign website, Lebsock called some of the recent allegations made against him "significantly exaggerated" and said others are "completely false." He added that he takes the complaints seriously but insists that an investigation will vindicate him. "Ultimately," he wrote, "the truth will come out.

"All I am asking for is due process," Lebsock wrote. "After all of this is over, I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Colorado. I also plan on being part of the important national conversation on how we can continuously improve and how we might treat each other with respect and love."

It's one of the latest development as a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against sitting Colorado legislators have rocked the Capitol in recent weeks.

Lebock was the subject of an explosive report by KUNC reporter Bente Birkeland published Nov. 10 detailing allegations that he made unwanted and aggressive sexual advances toward state Rep. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, at a party celebrating the end of the 2016 legislative session. The next day, a former lobbyist and a former legislative aide aired similar allegations against Lebsock, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Within hours, more than a dozen leading Democrats - including House Speaker Crisanta Duran, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll and numerous legislators - had called on Lebsock to resign his seat and withdraw from the state treasurer's race.

Lebsock declined to do either but asked Winter and "any anonymous accusers" to submit official complaints through the Legislature's established process, "not just through the media." By the middle of the following week, Winter and former animal welfare lobbyist Holly Tarry had filed complaints with Duran against Lebsock, Winter and Lebsock have both confirmed.

Over the next week, allegations of improper behavior emerged against state Rep. Paul Rosenthal, a Denver Democrat, and Republican state Sens. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs and Jack Tate of Centennial. Like Lebsock, they have all strenuosly denied any wrongdoing.

Lebsock maintained at an impromptu Capitol press conference held days after the first story published that he was being harassed and facing threats on his life. In his statement Tuesday, Lebsock reiterated the claims and detailed what he characterized as attempts to force him from his seat before the facts have come to light.

According to Lebsock, two people have offered him jobs if he resigns - a "Facebook friend of Faith Winter" and "a prominent figure in (D)emocratic Colorado politics" - in approaches he called "telling."

Lebsock told Colorado Politics on Tuesday he wasn't prepared to name the people who had offered him jobs.

Noting that Winter is one of two Democrats running for a swing Senate seat held by state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, a Westminster Republican, Lebsock suggested that Democrats want him out of the way to better their chances of winning the majority in the Senate, which the GOP currently controls 18-17.

"There will be immense pressure on many to accept the allegations as reported in the press because of the priority to flip this seat in 2018 and to get this situation in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible," Lebsock wrote. "However, a quick resignation for 'the good of the party,' although expedient for some in political circles will not allow for fair fact-finding and due process."

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