Colorado political leaders persist in both support and resignation of Aurora Rep. Jovan Melton

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AURORA | More state and local political leaders are doubling down on whether Aurora Rep. Jovan Melton, a Democrat, should step down from his seat after media reports uncovered two instances of harassment with two different women. 

The 2008 charge was dismissed, but Melton pleaded guilty to harassment in the 1999 Boulder case, which apparently stemmed from a disagreement the two had about how Melton wanted his girlfriend to look. Melton claimed in a statement Tuesday there was no physical violence in either of the cases. Both reports initially were investigated for domestic violence.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton said Melton should resign.

“Violence against women is never acceptable and Jovan Melton needs to take responsibility for his actions and resign,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “I urge Congressman Polis to join me in calling for Rep. Melton’s resignation and to condemn violence against women in any circumstance.”

Stapleton’s Democratic opponent Jared Polis didn’t release a statement on the situation, but did tell a Denver TV reporter that Melton needs to consider resigning.

Wednesday state Democratic party leaders released a statement saying they “encouraged” Melton to step down. 

“Ultimately it is Rep. Melton’s decision whether to step down. We recognize that the criminal justice system has not worked for far too many people of color and survivors,” Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, Majority Leader KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Assistant Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver said in a joint statement.

“People should not necessarily be precluded from running for office because they have issues in their past. But we urge him to consider the seriousness of the story and the impact on the people of his district and on the public confidence in the legislature.”

A group of other Democratic leaders, including former Denver mayor Wellington Webb and former state Rep. Joe Salazar, said in a news conference Thursday they see a “Jim Crow” double standard in calling for Melton’s resignation. 

“The issue we are talking about today is the hypocrisy of the House Democratic leadership,” Webb said. 

Webb highlighted other instances where Democrats were either not called on to resign or were given promotions when leadership knew about wrongdoing. 

Melton agreed to take anger management classes and resign his leadership role, but not his seat, according to Webb. 

There is still no indication that Melton, who is running for a fourth term in the House, will resign. 

He is facing an unknown Republican challenger. Dahlia Weinstein told the Sentinel she dropped out nearly two weeks ago. A GOP vacancy committee is expected to meet Friday to appoint a candidate.