Lebsock, according to Secretary of State spokesperson Lynn Bartels, filed a party switch at 3:17 p.m., less than an hour before the final vote came to expel him from the House.
Former state Sen. Mike Feeley, an attorney and expert in election law, told Colorado Politics that Lebsock can’t run for treasurer as a Republican. He pointed out state law – CRS 1-4-601(4)(a) – that says “no person is eligible for designation by assembly as a candidate for nomination at any primary election unless the person was affiliated with the political party holding the assembly, as shown in the statewide voter registration system, no later than the first business day of the January immediately preceding the primary election, unless otherwise provided by party rules.” That date came and went on January 2, according to the Secretary of State election calendar.
Daniel Cole of the Colorado Republican Party verified that Lebsock can’t run as a Republican because of that statute.
Lebsock was expelled from the Colorado House on Friday on a 52-9 vote, with all 36 remaining Democrats voting to expel, along with 15 Republicans. It followed a seven-hour emotional debate that included letters from alleged victims and statements from lawmakers who have also experienced sexual harassment. It also drew admissions from two Democratic lawmakers that they had been wearing bullet-proof vests over concerns for their safety, including a threat to “take you down,” from Lebsock to Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield.
So Lebsock can’t run as a Republican, and the question then becomes: Could he still run as a Democrat, or even as unaffiliated candidate? Feeley said rules for the Colorado Democratic Party do not require that a person be a registered Democrat in order to receive a nomination. But he scoffs at the chances that Lebsock would show up at the state party convention in order to seek the nomination. “It’s an impossibility,” Feeley said.
Reached Sunday morning by Colorado Politics, Lebsock reiterated the facts of this story – which add up to his inability to run as a Democrat or Republican – but would not comment directly about his political future.
But the state party also can’t amend its rules this year in order to deal with this unprecedented problem, Feeley said. Party rules – Article VII – say that those rules can only be amended in odd-numbered years. “Democrats can’t change the rules” to prevent Lebsock from running as a Democratic nominee, even if he isn’t a Democrat.
Feeley pointed out that Lebsock will not be able to caucus in his district on Tuesday as a Democrat, nor run as a delegate to the party convention next month. He would have had to be a registered Democrat to do that.
Lebsock is still listed as a Democrat in the Secretary of State’s TRACER database, which tracks campaign finances. He’s one of 10 candidates for state treasurer, including four lawmakers: Republican Reps. Justin Everett of Littleton and Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park and Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud; as well as Democratic Rep. Dave Young of Greeley. Lebsock said in January he would petition onto the ballot.
Lebsock hasn’t received a donation since Oct. 17, about three weeks before the first allegation surfaced that he had allegedly sexually harassed Democratic Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster. Up to that point, he had taken in about $27,000 in cash and another $15,200 in non-monetary donations, including contributions from House Majority Leader KC Becker, who later led the effort to expel him, and Democratic Rep. Edie Hooton, both of Boulder.
His largest single donation was $15,000 from the state Democratic Party. Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll told Colorado Politics on Sunday that the donation was in-kind, one given to all statewide candidates, for access to the party’s voter files.
“His account is now terminated,” Carroll said.
His name has also been removed from the state party’s website page that lists statewide Democratic candidates.
Lebsock’s TRACER filings show a balance of on-hand cash of $9,311.
Lebsock’s party switch threw the decision on who would fill his vacant seat to the Colorado GOP, which seemed less than thrilled with the idea.
A party statement issued Friday said, “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 governor gets to fill the vacancy. Because Lebsock was a Democrat when he committed his misdeeds, the vacancy committee could decline to fill his seat.”
The flip side is what the Democrats want to do. Regardless of which party fills the seat, it has little, if any, impact on the balance of power in the Colorado House, where Democrats (without Lebsock) hold an eight-seat advantage.
“As far as Lebsock goes, the Republicans can have him,” Carroll said in a statement Friday. “As far as the seat, we’re looking into it. Either way, we’re confident the district will be represented by a Democrat by the time the next session begins.”