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Embattled state representative takes polygraph over harassment allegations

DENVER -- Embattled State Rep. Steve Lebsock released the results of a polygraph examination on Thursday that he said prove he is innocent.

“If I’m telling the truth, then someone has to be lying,” Lebsock said.

Lebsock paid $350 for the exam by Polygraph Accountability Services, a well-known Colorado firm.

Lebsock was asked four questions pertaining to whether he inappropriately touched or attempted to touch the arms or buttocks of fellow lawmaker Rep. Faith Winter in May 2016.

Winter has filed an official complaint with Speaker Crisanta Duran and an investigation is underway.

“Faith Winter lied and made false allegations against a sitting member of the Colorado House,” Lebsock said.

Lebsock said he decided to pay for service because no investigator had contacted him.

“I waited patiently for weeks,” Lebsock said. “To this day I have not received an introductory email from the so called fact finder."

Late Thursday, the Colorado House Democrats refuted that argument.

“Any pertinent information Rep. Lebsock can provide regarding the accusations against him will be forwarded to the independent investigator," Majority Leaguer K.C. Becker said. "That investigation remains active. Rep. Lebsock was given an update on the status of the investigation as recently as Monday.

“It is typical in such cases for the investigator to talk to the accused after interviews with others have been completed. The investigator called Rep. Lebsock yesterday to schedule that interview, and as of this morning the investigator hadn’t heard back from him yet."

As for Winter, she spoke with members of the Capitol Press.

“My story has not changed,” she said. “I question the credibility of polygraphs and our ability to take the results seriously especially when he paid for it."

Late Thursday, Lebsock released his official account statement to the group investigating his behavior.

This letter serves as my response to the recent sexual harassment allegations made by Rep. Faith Winter. My statements are truthful, however, some of the specific dates I may not recall.

Following the November 2014 elections and prior to the allegations of 2016, I attended the Colorado State House Democrats yearly retreats. The 2014 and 2015 retreats were in late November or December of 2014 and 2015.
The retreats included informal evening receptions. At one of the receptions, Faith Winter walked up to me laughing.

She had been drinking alcohol as were many of the democratic caucus members. I greeted Faith as she walked up to me, and I asked something like, what’s up? Faith pointed to a small group of legislators several feet away and said something like, “we are talking sex”. I responded, but it was a generic type of response as it caught me off guard that Faith walked up to me and was surprisingly candid about sex. We talked for a couple minutes and I do not remember everything said. I do remember Faith stating that she has sex with her husband at least several times a week…”sometimes several times a day.”

I remember being a little surprised at the level of unsolicited and unwanted talk about her sex life. During a conversation with Faith on a different evening at a retreat Faith asked me to sit in a hot tub with her and another legislator. I declined the invitation.
As the months went by, it was obvious that Faith was embarrassed by her unsolicited comments to me. I would pretend not to notice her embarrassment as I wanted to focus on legislation and my job. In addition, Faith Winter and I live in the same Senate District and county and I thought it imperative for us to have a good working relationship.

Throughout 2015 and 2016 Faith would often come to my desk in the House chamber at the capitol and ask me questions. Sometimes it seemed like she was grasping at something trying to create a conversation. I can remember thinking this was strange behavior. Finally, after several conversations I realized the motive - Faith was attempting to get information regarding my plans for 2018. The State Senate district that Faith and I both live in is Senate District 24. SD24 is currently held by a republican lawmaker. Faith and I both knew that the democrats would have this state senate race as the top priority takeover possibility in 2018. The Senate has a one seat 18-17 republican majority. Faith was not aware that I had absolutely no intention to run for the state senate seat.

My supporters had been asking me to either run for Governor or a different statewide office, State Treasurer. (I am currently a Colorado State Treasurer candidate). After several awkward conversations with Faith, I said, “let’s make sure we sit down and discuss our plans for 2018”. She agreed.

For some reason, probably because I was busy with legislative duties and family, that meeting never occurred.
Looking back now, I believe Faith was worried about two things: 1) She was embarrassed about the sex conversation she initiated at the retreat. 2) She may have thought I would use that against her in a senate district 24 primary (she was not aware of my intentions of running for statewide office, not state senate). If I could do it over again I would tell Faith in 2015 that I had no intention of running for the seat she was seeking in 2018. Second, I would tell her that I would never use anything she said at a retreat against her in any campaign.

In April of 2016, Faith Winter walked up to my desk in the house chamber and stated that she was running for Assistant Majority Leader (a House leadership position within our Democratic House caucus). I stated that I would support her for Asst. Majority Leader. I also informed her at that time that I was supporting K.C. Becker for Majority Leader. Several days later Faith came to me again with a different ask. She stated that she had made a deal with Alec and that Alec was running for Asst. Majority Leader and she was seeking the Majority Leader position.

I reminded her that I was supporting K.C. for the Majority Leader position. She was visibly nervous and agitated from my response. It appeared to me she was frustrated from the conversation and walked away.

After the final gavel of each legislative session it is tradition for legislators, the press, aides, lobbyists, interns, bill drafters and other capitol employees to meet at Stoney’s Bar and Grill which is near the capitol. In May of 2016 some met at Stoney’s to celebrate the end of the legislative session.

I was at Stoney’s when Faith Winter, Dominick Moreno and Alec Garnett entered. All three walked up to me and said hello. Dominick then walked about 15 feet away from where I was standing and began talking with others. Alec, after greeting me started talking with a small group of people about 6 feet away from where Faith and I were standing. Alec was near enough to me that I could hear his voice in conversation. Faith remained talking to me. After Alec and Dominic walked away Faith told me that her husband was “out of town”. We had a very short conversation. I remember her saying how “crazy” the legislative session had become. After a few minutes Alec Garnett approached and asked if he could call an Uber for me.

I thought he was joking with me because I was a “no” on the Uber legislation which cut red tape for Uber and Lyft, but kept the red tape in for taxi’s. I believe we should cut unneeded red tape for all, not just a few. Alec was a “yes” on the bill. I jokingly said, “Fuck you Alec”, you know I was a no vote on the Uber bill.” Alec Garnett and Dominick Moreno, as reported by the press, have stated they did not witness any sexual harassment.

The next day Faith texted me and asked if I got home ok. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I thought she was simply making small talk. This time by text. I told her that I got home safe.
Several days later I received a concerning email from Faith stating that I had said something to her at Stoney’s. The tone of her email was serious. After reading the email I immediately texted Faith. I believe it may have taken a couple days to read her email as I took a couple days off at the end of session. I immediately apologized for anything I may have said that offended her. I did not know what to be sorry for, but, I wanted to apologize anyway. I asked her by text if she would tell me what I said which was offensive to her. She refused.

Several days later the Speaker and Majority Leader reached out to me and asked if I could meet with them at the capitol. We met in the Speaker’s office. The Speaker and Majority Leader stated that Faith had contacted them both and Faith stated to them that I had said something inappropriate at Stoney’s. I explained that I do not remember anything that I said which could be interpreted as inappropriate.

They asked if I had been drinking. I stated that I had. I explained that I had apologized to Faith, but, Faith had not shared with me what I had supposedly said. I explained to the Speaker and the Majority Leader again that I honestly could not remember saying anything to Faith which could be interpreted as inappropriate.
The Speaker and Majority Leader both advised me to continue talking with Faith. I explained that I would be as sensitive and thoughtful as possible, but, Faith has refused to tell me what I said which was offensive to her.

I can say with complete confidence that I did not touch, or attempt to touch Faith Winter at all.

Over a period of approximately four weeks I tried to be as thoughtful and sensitive to Faith as possible. Over that period of time I did ask her if she wanted to sit down with her husband and I to discuss. I explained that I would be thoughtful and am willing to discuss it with her and her husband if that made her more comfortable.

She said she was not willing to do that. I believe I communicated with her a total of three times regarding the accusations and my willingness to sit down with her and a trusted third party to discuss. She refused all three times stating that she would be uncomfortable. At that point, after being as thoughtful as I could and Faith’s unwillingness to state what I said, I let it go.

During the first quarter of 2017, the same awkward conversations continued initiated by Faith. In April of 2017, Faith initiated another conversation. She said, “did you see that Adam announced for my senate district?” She was angry and frustrated that someone else jumped in the race before she was able to announce her intentions publicly. She went on to say, “I planned to announce in the fall…now I have to announce much earlier…” She asked me to “talk to Adam” and ask him to “drop out” of the race. A couple weeks later I did speak with Adam. I did not try to force him out of the race. This is what Faith was asking me to do. I spoke to Adam with respect. Adam is an honorably discharged Marine Corps veteran and a police officer. He and I both served in the corps. I am certain Faith asked me to get Adam out of the race because Adam and I share similar backgrounds of service.

Faith also implied in one of the awkward conversations she initiated that she was “not aware of anyone from Emerge looking at your race”. This was an obvious, veiled attempt to tell me that if I got Adam out of the race she was running for, then, she would make sure other candidates would not come forward in my race. She continued to insinuate this quid pro quo in at least two more conversations we had in 2017.

In May of 2017, I heard from several people including legislators and capitol staff that there were a small group of democratic law makers who were spreading rumors about me at the capitol. The whispers and rumors about me were not true and, quite frankly, disturbing. Disturbing because it was obvious that a whisper campaign had started to discredit me. I was the only Democrat running for Colorado State Treasurer. My background as a fourth-generation Coloradoan from Sterling and an honorably discharged Marine Corp veteran would position me to win the election in 2018. A friend told me that there were several folks in the party that would attempt to derail my 2018 State Treasurer campaign. I took the warning seriously, but, continued traveling our entire state from May 2017 to November 2017.

In September of 2017, a supporter informed me that a small group of democrats were “after me”. A different supporter warned me that she was told that, “something was going to come out against you next month”. The allegations were announced in the press on November 10th and 11th of 2017, 18 months after Faith’s initial contact with the Speaker and Majority Leader in May of 2016. A second and third accuser came out. It was obvious to all of my supporters who contacted me over the next week that it was a smear “campaign”. Within hours of the allegations in the press, high profile democrats were publicly asking me to resign and step down before I even had a chance to tell my side of the story.

The false allegations are politically motivated.
Immediately after the allegations came out in the press I drafted a statement which in part asked the accusers to please fill out a formal complaint. I also wanted to be as thoughtful as I possibly could and give the accusers time to think about their false allegations. I even apologized publicly, a window of opportunity for the accusers to do the right thing and tell the truth.

They did not. The stories changed, but, the allegations against me continue to be false.
I did not touch Faith or Holly. I did not harass Faith or Holly. The truth will come out. It’s really disappointing that numerous public officials asked for my resignation only hours after the allegations in the press and before hearing my side of the story. It is obvious to many that this is an orchestrated campaign which is politically motivated. I will not step down. I will not resign. We will expose the political motivations fueling these false allegations and gross exaggerations from the truth.

Because Democrats in Colorado have flipping the State Senate from red to blue as their No. 1 priority in 2018, and Winter is running for the seat that must go blue for that to happen, there is pressure on many to accept her side of the story before my side of the story is even told. This was obviously a pre-planned smear campaign. The accusations were made in the press first. I immediately asked the accusers to submit formal complaints so that we would have due process.

The people of Colorado deserve to have elected leaders willing to fight for them. I will continue to fight for the people of Colorado. This will be public and painful. I will fight. I will tell the truth.

I want to thank all the people who have contacted me, some begging me, asking me to tell my side of the story and the truth. I am doing just that with this letter. The stories are changing in the press and are still false. The accusations against me are politically motivated. It is sad that politics has become so dirty, even within our own party, that some use false allegations to demean and discredit. This behavior must stop now.

I hope false allegations by some will not cause victims of serious crimes out there from wanting to come forward. To the victims out there…stay strong…we are with you. Our nation faces a crossroad. Please, let’s choose wisely. We must be respectful and seek justice for victims. We must also preserve due process and preserve our rights and liberties.

 

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