As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:
…According to an audio recording of a portion of the hearing posted on ColoradoPols.com, [Sen. Shawn] Mitchell referred to a witness’ comment that he was nervous at the beginning of this testimony but indicated that the witness didn’t seem nervous.
“If any of those (witnesses) that follow are (nervous), I just want to pass on a tip that sometimes when I’m in committee and I’m nervous, I relieve that by imagining the chairwoman in her underwear,” Mitchell said.
The chairwoman of the committee is Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. The committee is charged with investigating alleged abuses by Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s workers’ compensation insurer.
Several people can be heard laughing at Mitchell’s comment. A woman presumed to be Carroll noted that Mitchell “got a laugh out of that.”
“I’ll try that next time, sir,” the witness said.
“I don’t recommend that,” Carroll replied.
In a prepared statement, former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, a ProgressNow Colorado board member, chastised Mitchell for making a “sophomoric, suggestive comment” and said Penry “is either too weak or tone-deaf to get control of his caucus.”
Reached late Friday afternoon, Penry called Mitchell’s remark “an obviously inappropriate comment” and said Mitchell “should make it right” with Carroll.
“And since we’re in the business of asking people to apologize for the actions of others, I call on Ms. Schoettler to apologize for (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,” Penry wrote in an e-mail.
A couple of observations:
1. As you can see, Senate Minority Leader/gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry doesn’t mince as many words this time–Mitchell’s comment was “obviously inappropriate.” We’re not quite sure what “make it right” means, presumably it means an apology. That’s what it probably should mean.
Seems to us that’s a very different response than Penry had to, for example, Dave Schultheis’ uber-creepy “It’s my hope that that person may have AIDS” remarks. As you know, Penry was roundly criticized for his inept response to extreme statements by members of his caucus during this year’s session. Might almost make you think he learned his lesson, until we get to
2. Penry seems to think that former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler should apologize for a laundry list of Bill Ritter “misdeeds,” such as the FASTER bill for transportation funding, new oil and gas drilling protections, and being forced to cut the homestead exemption like Republicans did in 2003 during a much less severe downturn. We’re pretty sure you could argue those on the merits and still not approach the level of first-person disgust most people feel about sexual harrassment–but whatever.
Another more fundamental difference helps explain Penry’s problem: Bill Ritter is the Governor, and we don’t think there’s a position of “Governor Majority Leader” above the Governor–and if there is, Gail Schoettler doesn’t hold it. Josh Penry, on the other hand, is the Senate Minority Leader, meaning he’s the closest thing to oversight Shawn Mitchell has got. From Jim Welker to Michael Garcia to Doug Bruce, there are examples of legislative leadership policing their own when not doing so threatens to become a political liability.
But not Penry! He’s kind of annoyed he got called about this, and prefers a snarky comeback to acknowledging what most real leaders already know: in leadership, the buck stops with you.