December 30, 2004 News » Cover Story

The Bensberg drama 

click to enlarge Jim Bensberg
  • Jim Bensberg

"I think our county administrator is married; that's probably as much gender education you could ever get."

-- Chuck Brown, the chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, before voting against implementing a county employee sexual harassment and gender relations program, after fellow commissioner Jim Bensberg and a top manager in county government were accused of harassing a female employee.

"Mister Chairman I, um [long pause], I am uh, [long pause] uh trying to tactfully ... I have to say that I disagree with that statement."

-- County Commissioner Wayne Williams, who is also an employment attorney, in response to Brown's comment above.

" I don't think this is the proper venue for this discussion."

-- County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, who voted against installing a policy dealing with sexual harassment in the county. Bensberg's comment came after he, despite being advised to recuse himself due to conflict of interest, cast the deciding vote absolving himself and the country in a harassment charge brought against him this year by a female employee who complained she had been subject to his romantic advances.

"I could see the difference when [Jim Bensberg] walked to the right and then to the left, that he had something in his arms. You can make up your mind what it is -- I'm not going to rat out the commissioner."

-- El Paso County's director of security, Don Johnson, after reviewing a videotape that showed Bensberg appearing to pick up a stack of Independent newspapers that included coverage of his activities in the harassment investigation (described above). This year the Legislature enacted a bill making it illegal to steal free newspapers; however the law had not yet gone into effect.


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