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Colorado Senate Minority Leader Steps Down, Cites Misconduct

DENVER (CBS4/AP) - Colorado's Senate minority leader, Democrat Lucia Guzman, has stepped down from her post in part to protest Republican leadership's handling of workplace harassment complaints.

Guzman told CBS4 she felt she could no longer work proactively in her role, amid the alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct reports.

"My responsibility (was) to work with the president, and the majority leader, on the other side. That is what you are supposed to do, no matter what," Guzman said. "When I felt I could no longer do that, It is my responsibility to step aside, and bring someone in who could do that."

The term-limited Guzman was replaced Thursday by Sen. Leroy Garcia of Pueblo.

Guzman will serve out her term as assistant minority leader.

Lucia Guzman
Sen. Lucia Guzman (credit CBS)

Guzman struggled this session with Senate Republican leaders over the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against at least three Republican senators, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

All deny wrongdoing.

She said Thursday that Republicans' condemnation of Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan — who last week asked for floor debate on Baumgardner's conduct — was the final straw.

Guzman also says it's time to bring fresh leadership to the Senate's Democratic caucus.

Colorado Senate Republicans denied to directly comment on the specific allegations from Guzman.

"I have enjoyed a cordial and constructive working relationship with the Minority Leader since we came into the legislature together, so I'm naturally disappointed to learn of her departure, as well as the reasons she gave for it," said Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham, President of the Colorado Senate. "Lucia Guzman is a wonderful person who has acquitted herself well as Minority Leader. I respect her decision and thank her for her leadership and friendship."

Colorado's legislative session ends May 9.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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