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Politics and Government

Colorado state senator won’t seek re-election following sexual harassment allegation, cites personal financial obligations

In a Facebook post announcing the move, Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, said he began considering when to leave the legislature months before he was accused of sexual harassment

From left: State Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, shakes hands with Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Provided by Colorado Senate GOP)
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State Sen. Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican who was accused of sexual harassment, says he will not seek re-election to the Colorado legislature in 2020.

In a Facebook post Friday, Tate said he began considering when to leave his job at the Capitol months before he was accused of harassment in November 2017.

“We have been contemplating since the summer of 2017 when it would be my time not to run again and go back to my career in order to better meet my personal financial obligations,” he said in the post. “After spending time over Thanksgiving with my family, we have made the decision to say that six years in the General Assembly is good.”

Tate was out of state and could not be reached for comment Monday, but a spokeswoman, Wendy Aiello, said the GOP senator’s decision not to seek re-election is unrelated to the harassment complaint.

Tate was easily elected to his Senate seat in 2016, besting Democrat Tom Sullivan by about 6 percentage points. Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, was elected to the state House this year.

Tate’s decision is likely to set off a fierce political battle as the 2020 contest for the south-metro seat is a crucial, must-keep for Republicans if they want to retake control of the state Senate.

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“Coming from a successful career in business, I never intended for this to be a replacement career,” Tate said in the Facebook post. “It was my belief four years ago, in a spirit of public service, that with my skill set there would be an opportunity for me to contribute to the well-being of Colorado.”

Tate, a business consultant from the world of investments, was first elected to the Colorado General Assembly in 2014 as a state representative. In 2015, he was selected by a vacancy committee to replace Sen. David Balmer after Balmer left office.

A former legislative intern came forward in November 2017 to allege Tate leered at her and made comments about her clothing during the prior session. An outside investigation into the allegations found that the incidents that prompted the complaint were “more likely than not” to have happened.

However, Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, ruled that the complaint and allegations didn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment. Tate faced no public punishment over the allegations and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Tate played a critical role this year in passing Senate Bill 200, which reformed the complex and troubled Public Employees Retirement Association.

Aiello, Tate’s spokeswoman, said the senator is exploring his options outside of the legislature. “He’s got a couple of opportunities that he’s reviewing,” she said.

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