DENVER — An investigation into allegations Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulfur Springs, sexually harassed a staffer of former Democrat minority leader Morgan Carroll alludes to the possibility that Baumgardner’s actions were the result of the poor layout of the State Capitol and not malicious intent.
It also leaves it open that someone other than Baumgardner may have committed the alleged offense because in two of the instances, the victim admits she didn’t actually see who it was that “slapped” her on the butt. She says she just knew it was Baumgardner.
“I just walked away, both times,” she told the investigator. “I didn’t look back. I didn’t want to look back because I knew I would get a response.”
The woman also said that lobbyists are the biggest perpetrators of sexual harassment.
Despite the revelations, and the investigator admitting determining fault was complicated, she still ruled that Baumgardner was more likely than not to have grabbed the Carroll staffer’s rear on two occasions and slapped her butt cheek two times.
Complete Colorado received a redacted copy of the investigation from an anonymous source. The investigation was conducted by an outside agency, Employer’s Council, Inc. In the report, two separate witnesses report they never saw Baumgardner act inappropriately.
They also said that it is possible he accidentally bumped up against her while meandering small crowded spaces that are indicative of the capitol, saying that scenario is common.
“I would say that nearly everyone lulled about in that hallway before chamber would start,” an unidentified public policy consultant told the investigator, whom sources close to the investigation confirmed was Amy Travin, the same investigator used to investigate Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial. Travin came to the same conclusions in the Tate report — more likely than not that the accusations were true.
“I saw Randy out there as much as anyone,” the consultant said in the report. “… It is chaos for everyone for 120 days. It would be hard to say because there is literally a crowd out front every day. So you are weaving your way sometimes, or even putting your hand on someone to ask to get by.”
The consultant outlined small areas of high congestion throughout the capitol, including lobby areas and the hallway leading from the Senate Majority offices to the senate floor.
Earlier this month, Former Rep. Steve Lebsock was expelled from the house after fellow House Democrat Faith Winter along with several other women leveled accusations against the Thornton man that included retaliation that lawmakers called unforgivable.
Just before the vote to expel, Lebsock changed his affiliation to Republican, and this week Republicans selected Alex Winkler to replace him. The added conservative seat doesn’t change the Democrats majority in the House.
In the Senate, however, Democrats are in the minority by just one vote. Democrats are now trying to force President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, to allow the Senate to vote on a resolution that would expel Baumgardner.
If Baumgardner were expelled, his seat would come up for a special election, in a district that Democrats think they can win, which would split the senate evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats began trying to pressure Grantham into the vote by taking turns daily going to the podium asking for it to be introduced.
Grantham has until April 12 to do so. At that time, he will either have to allow an immediate vote on the floor of the Senate or send it to committee.
Grantham has refused to this point to release the investigation to legislators or the media, but has called it biased and unfair. He asked Denver District Attorney Beth McCann to initiate a criminal probe, saying if it is physical contact it should be a criminal manner and he won’t consider expulsion until there is proof of criminal activity.
The woman didn’t come forward until two years after the alleged instances. She said the first happened a couple weeks after Americans for Progress (sic) “stormed our offices,” and admits her memory of the situation is a “blur.”
“I looked behind me and thought, ‘Who the hell is that?’ I didn’t see him coming towards me,” the report reads. “I have no idea if anyone else saw. I don’t remember anyone else who may have been around. It’s all kind of a blur now.”
Baumgardner told the investigator that he may have accidentally brushed up against her, but he adamantly denies any intentional wrongdoing.
“We all stand outside of our offices, in the hallway,” Baumgardner said in the report. “There are 100 people that stand out there. There are lobbyists that stand out there in that hallway, all the time. The hallway is about 10 feet wide. … I do not recall anything like that because it never happened. I did not touch anyone’s buttocks during the 2016 legislative session in that hallway, or any other time that I have served in the Senate.”
The investigator took exception with Baumgardner’s description of the layout of the capitol. She admits to having never been in the capitol and having no first-hand knowledge of the areas in question.
His “response to this investigator’s questions about the layout of the capitol seemed condescending,” she wrote. He “appeared somewhat patronizing in realizing this investigator had not been inside the Capitol. This sense of superiority hinders (Baumgardner’s) credibility.”
A lobbyist who talked to the investigator said he couldn’t remember the aide ever being concerned about the situation.
“She sat two desks away from me,” the lobbyist said. “We talked pretty often. … I don’t remember (her) telling me something during the 2016 legislative session (that) happened to her that would possibly be considered sexual harassment.”
The lobbyist also said the aide only recently discussed it with him and had to remind him of the specifics.
“She did not tell me during the 2016 legislative session about anything that was going on,” he said. “And if she did, I don’t recall.”
The second occurrence she said she didn’t think Baumgardner was intentionally grabbing her, instead she said she believed Baumgardner was “not all there.”
“He does not seem to have a full deck of cards,” she said. “… I don’t think he is being malicious. I just don’t think he is all there. I think he thinks it’s a game. I could be totally wrong on that.”
The investigator admits that the allegations were difficult because it is a “he said, she said situation.” She also said the allegations were “difficult for (her) to resolve.”
“The two important points on either side seem to be that (redacted) does not remember (redacted) telling him about this,” the report reads. “This decreases the plausibility the allegation may have occurred. However (redacted) response of not “recalling” the incident seems too great to overcome.”
The investigator then says she based her decision of “more likely than not” entirely on the victim’s appearance and genuineness.
Travin made similar remarks in Tate’s investigation. However, she questioned Tate’s credibility partly on the fact he hired an attorney.
“Further, because Mr. Tate had hired an attorney, whom was present at his interview, it makes it more likely he may have rehearsed his answer to this allegation.”
Baumgardner was unable to be reached for comment.