He’s been called “boob grabber” by colleagues and staffers – a nickname that was deemed credible by an independent investigation. Now, after fending off pressure to expel Senator Randy Baumgardner through much of 2018, GOP leadership in the Colorado Senate has denied him a position on any of the chamber’s ten main standing committees.
Randy Baumgardner named to no committees
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert announced his committee assignments for the upcoming session on Friday. Senator Randy Baumgardner was not given a seat on any of them.
This move marks a dramatic fall from grace for Baumgardner, who began 2018 as chairman of two influential committees (Transportation and Capital Development) and a member of a third (Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy).
Omitting him from any standing committees is part of an ongoing effort by Republican leadership to isolate Baumgardner as much as possible. In May, at the end of the 2018 session, Senate President Kevin Grantham removed him from all interim committees, which meet when the General Assembly is not in session.
Speaking to the Grand Junction, Colorado-based Daily Sentinel, Minority Leader Holbert played down the significance of his move to diminish Baumgardner’s authority. “I’ve talked with him, and he is comfortable with (the decision),” he said. “This is a continuance of where we’ve been. There’s been no change.”
Baumgardner certainly will not be able to complain he being overworked next year. By being denied a place on every committee he will take no part in the 2019 session other than floor votes.
The case against the “boob grabber”
In February 2018 Baumgartner was accused of slapping the buttocks of a Democratic Senator’s legislative aide on four occasions. Initially ignored by Republican leadership, an independent investigator later determined the charges were “more likely than not.”
After weeks of agitation by Democrats, a motion to expel Baumgardner came to a vote on the Senate floor in early April. A two-thirds majority was required for the motion to pass, but the final vote failed at 17-17.
Later that month, a second explosive independent report about Baumgardner’s behavior was published. It determined that allegations by eight different people that the Senator created an offensive work environment at the Capitol were credible.
The report also discussed the reasons behind Baumgardner’s nickname, “boob-grabber,” which was reportedly in wide use amongst colleagues and staffers.
One unnamed Republican legislator quoted in the report said the term reflected “how his hands brush against a woman’s breasts after a hug or when he puts his arms around her shoulders and under her breast.”
Baumgardner increasingly isolated
Baumgardner has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and his fellow Republicans have consistently backed him during debates on the floor. During his expulsion debate Republican Senator Don Coram referred to the effort as a “public lynching.”
Away from partisan debates, however, GOP leaders have been gradually sidelining the Senator.
The effort to expel Baumgardner has resulted indirectly in the departure of another Colorado State Senator, however. Earlier this week Democratic Senator Daniel Kagan resigned after enduring months of allegations, many substantiated, that he frequented a women’s restroom near the Senate floor.
The allegations surfaced after an impassioned speech against sexual harassment was made by Kagan in March during the efforts by Democrats to force a vote on Baumgartner’s expulsion.
UPDATE: DECEMBER 17th 2018
In a letter to the Colorado Secretary of State today, Senator Randy Baumgardner resigned his seat in the Colorado State Senate, effective January 21st 2019.
In the letter Baumgardner makes no reference to the various allegations made against him.