Log In

Reset Password
Regional News

Colorado Democratic Party begins steps to remove vice-chair who harassed lawmaker

A court recently granted a protective order to Rep. Leslie Herod over Sheena Kadi’s behavior
The gold dome of the Colorado state Capitol on a stormy day in May 2023. (Ryan Warner/CPR News file)

Four members of Colorado’s Democratic State Central Committee have filed a formal complaint with the state party, asking to remove vice-chair Sheena Kadi from her leadership position.

On Monday CPR News reported that for over a year, Kadi publicly accused Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver of being a “sexual predator” and urged other Democrats to cut ties with her. In February, Herod was granted a yearlong no-contact protection order from Kadi.

In their petition to remove Kadi, central committee members quote the Denver County judge’s decision, which found Kadi’s claims of sexual assault and bullying by Herod to be “wholly unsubstantiated.”

Last April, party members elected Kadi to serve as Vice Chair for Public Relations and Marketing. Her term ends next year.

Kadi was already under pressure to step down. On Monday Democratic State Party Chair Shad Murib called on her to resign from her official role within the party. Murib said Kadi hasn’t yet responded to him and that he is weighing next steps.

CU-Regent Wanda James; Samantha Walsh, a lobbyist and co-chair of Democrats’ House District 24 committee; Neal Walia, co-chair of the Colorado South Asian Democrats Initiative; and Hashim T. Coates, a political consultant and candidate for Arapahoe County Commissioner, are spearheading the effort to remove Kadi.

Democratic state Rep. Leslie Herod, center, in the House, Feb. 23. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News file)

The petition must gather 50 signatures from Democratic leaders and local officials to trigger what’s known as a “controversy committee” under Democratic Party rules. Removal requires a vote of the Democratic Central Committee.

James told CPR News that Kadi’s allegations were “just an amazing smear campaign in the worst way possible.” She said it’s shocking that an effort to remove Kadi has taken this long.

“It’s shameful on all parts, from the party to the people who continue to allow this to happen. It was horrible,” James said.

In addition to removing her from her elected position, the group behind the petition is seeking to suspend Kadi’s party credentials and access to the party’s voter information files, and bar her from participating in party events and meetings.

“That judgment leaves no room for doubt about the veracity of these claims and wholly vindicated Representative Herod in the years-long harassment she has been subject to publicly because of this targeted campaign,” they wrote in the petition that began circulating at the statehouse and among local party leaders on Wednesday.

They said Kadi’s behavior has violated the Democratic Party’s code of conduct in significant ways, including breaches of neutrality, misrepresentations of her duty as an officer of the party and inappropriate and unethical use of her title in public communications.

“It’s the right thing to do and it does amp up public pressure to show this isn’t just personal beef or party insiders trying to force her out,” said Walsh of the petition and formal complaint.

In its language, the petition makes clear the uncomfortable position the situation has put the party in.

“These are incredibly serious allegations that any Democrat upon pure principle would take seriously as we believe in protecting people and building safe spaces and communities,” states the petition, in regards to Kadi’s allegations. But it notes that Kadi never filed a formal complaint with the party against Herod.

“The Democratic Party stands proudly as an organization to believe all victims of harassment, However, we also are a party that understands the imbalanced scrutiny and biases that women of color face in systems of justice and the public eye. They’re less likely to be believed as victims of harassment and more likely to be seen as “aggressors” for simply existing,” continues the petition.

Herod is the first openly gay Black woman elected to the Colorado Legislature, and previously chaired the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus. She ran for mayor of Denver last year.

In addition to her role within the state party Kadi is currently a spokesperson for Democratic Treasurer Dave Young. His office told CPR News she’s dealing with the situation in her personal capacity.

James told CPR she questions Young’s judgment “as to why he would keep someone like this in his employ.”

“There are things you should not be able to do. And be in the democratic process, when you cause this kind of harm to an elected official for your own lies or issues that you have, it makes no sense.”

James said she hopes the petition puts pressure on Young to take professional action against too.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.