At Colorado statehouse, the #MeToo movement is exposing a culture of harassment and weak protections for women
“It can’t go back in the shadows anymore. Otherwise, in 10 years, we will just have more sad #MeToo stories.”
The warnings start as whispers echoing through the marbled hallways at the Colorado state Capitol.
Watch out for this lawmaker. Don’t be alone with that lawmaker. Avoid these other lawmakers when they drink.
The cautionary tales — passed from lobbyist to lawmaker, lawmaker to staffer, staffer to aide — remained hushed in a place where power and fear create a culture that often tolerates sexual harassment and questionable behavior with few repercussions.
The quiet ended this month. Three female lawmakers came forwardindividually with allegations of unwanted sexual advances from male colleagues, and separately three female former aides and interns are accusing three male lawmakers of acting inappropriately.
The behind-the-scenes portrait of the atmosphere at the Capitol — described in interviews with more than 75 current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and legislative aides — puts Colorado in the same conversation with more than a dozen other states and Congress, which have been shaken by reports of sexual harassment and settlement payments.
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