Democrat Representative Steve Lubsock was expelled from the Colorado State House of Representatives on Friday, but a last-minute trick will give the Republican Party the right to choose his replacement.
Colorado State House Representative Steve Lubsock has been denying sexual harassment allegations against him for months. He even produced results from a polygraph test to prove his denial of the allegations. Multiple accusers have come forward accusing the Democrat from Thornton of 10 specific instances of sexual harassment.
“I’m not guilty. I’ve done nothing wrong. I have never sexually harassed anyone,” then-State Representative Lubsock told reporters.
The Colorado State House of Representatives — which is controlled by Democrats — disagreed and deemed that the allegations against Lubsock were credible. It was announced last week that the House would vote to expel Lubsock. Under the rules, a two thirds majority is necessary to kick any state representative out of office.
When that news broke, then-Rep. Lubsock gave a statement in the capitol building, declaring that “[he would] not be expelled.” While Lubsock is many things, Nostradamus he is not.
On Friday, the lower chamber voted 52-9 to expel Steve Lubsock. The no-votes were all Republicans.
While Democrats were committed to making an example of Lubsock as a part of the #MeToo movement, Colorado Republicans were initially unwilling to expel their colleague because of unsubstantiated allegations. GOP legislators criticized the Democrats’ investigation and questioned whether an expulsion resolution — which gave no option for a lesser punishment, such as censure — qualified as due-process. Those objections were summarily rejected by the majority.
Many of the chamber’s Republicans ultimately decided to vote for expulsion because of how Lubsock chose to attack his accusers. At the start of the legislative session, Lubsock delivered a 28-page dossier to each of his colleagues that detailed the sex lives of his accusers in shocking detail. Many Republicans considered that to be a tasteless attempt to shame these women.
The expulsion vote did not go completely as the House leadership planned, however. Minutes before the chamber voted to expel him, Lubsock formally changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. He handed in the paperwork from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office just prior to the vote.
“He dropped off a piece of paper at my desk and pointed to the party affiliation moments before the vote,” Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) said. “Didn’t see that one coming.”
While that may seem inconsequential, the party change was a jab at Democrats who Lubsock harshly criticized for turning on him. Under Colorado’s Constitution, State House vacancies are to be filled by the political party that last held the seat.
Any vacancy occurring in either house by death, resignation, or otherwise shall be filled in the manner prescribed by law. The person appointed to fill the vacancy shall be a member of the same political party, if any, as the person whose termination of membership in the general assembly created the vacancy. [Colorado State Constitution, Article 5, Section 2(3)]
While Steve Lubsock was elected as a Democrat, his last-minute party change gives the Colorado Republican Party, specifically the party’s House District 34 Vacancy Committee, the right to choose Lubsock’s successor.
Democrats did not see the party change coming. Confident that they would be able to quickly replace Lubsock, the party found itself scrambling to examine the rules.
“As far as Lebsock goes, the Republicans can have him. As far as the seat, we’re looking into it,” Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson Eric Walker said in a press statement. “Either way, we’re confident the district will be represented by a Democrat by the time the next session begins.”
Interestingly enough, the Colorado Republican Party hinted on Twitter that the HD 34 Vacancy Committee might not choose to appoint a successor. Inaction would then allow Governor Hickenlooper to choose Lubsock’s successor.
Our HD 34 Vacancy Committee has the right to fill the vacancy. Whether it chooses to do so is another question. If it declines to act within 30 days, the gov gets to fill the vacancy. Because Lebsock was a Dem when he committed his misdeeds, the VC could decline to fill his seat.
— The Colorado GOP (@cologop) March 3, 2018
What do you think? Should Steve Lubsock have been removed? Which party should get to replace him? Tell us in the comment section below!