What Frank McNulty and Bruce Ben$on Have In Common

We’ve been talking for some time–longer, we realize, than some of our better-placed readers would prefer–about the recent passage of legislation in the Colorado General Assembly implementing a 22% raise in the daily per diem compensation paid to legislators representing districts outside Denver. As we’ve reported, passage of this in-effect pay increase for 41 of the 100 members of the legislature became politically controversial after it was passed in the GOP-controlled House with no debate, and reported only the weekend after. Tim Hoover of the Denver paper reported that GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty actually cut off a legislative aide in committee who was about to explain that the legislation paid for the extra per diem.

As of this writing, it does appear that the per diem increase will be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, and no legislation of the kind passed in 2010 delaying the increase has yet been introduced. But for election-year political purposes, the damage is done–with more “fiscal conservative” Republicans now on record voting for pay raises in both chambers than Democrats. It’s not exactly the cleanest political issue, with sympathetic arguments on both sides. But it will make direct-mail strategy against a number of candidates a lot easier.

And as we’ve said, one party, the “party of fiscal responsibility,” is also now, on balance, the “per diem party!” Whose base, at the end of the day, will be more sympathetic?

Remember all this, and fast-forward to late last week as the AP reports:

Questions are being raised after University of Colorado President Bruce Benson urged regents to act quickly on a large tuition hike, warning delays could make it difficult to get more money.

According to an email obtained by the Boulder Daily Camera, Benson told regents the proposal could backfire the longer they delayed action. Regents later backed off the increase because of a public outcry over plans to use some of the money for raises for top employees…

Here’s the money quote from that email, as obtained by the Boulder newspaper:

Got that? University of Colorado President, ex-GOP gubernatorial candidate, and longtime Republican funder and kingpin strategist Bruce Benson says the pesky media covering “the issue,” in this case a proposed 15% tuition hike alongside/after fat salary hikes for top CU officials, might blow up in their face! And if that happens, what about the legislative agenda?!

We’re picturing a film scene, back and forth between Benson and McNulty, reading this sentence. It would work perfectly. In both cases, Benson and McNulty were fully aware they were doing something politically self-injurious, at odds with their stated conservative principles–and in both cases, their first choice appears to have been to conceal it as best they could.

There is a very important lesson to be learned from this, we begin to realize.


9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. PitaPita says:

    Only the Shadow knows…

    For you young ones out there this is an old radio show that began even before I was born but my grandfather was faithful listener until the very end in 1954.

    Benson and McNulty operate best in the dark and not the light of day. Kudos to the press and Pols for airing their stories.


    In 2010, the Colorado Legislature enacted a bill that was retroactive, unconstitutional, and an outright, unabashed theft of retirement benefits from PERA retirees.  As a Colorado native, I still cannot accept that my home state has allowed this outrage.  To ask a person to work for you for 30 years and contract with them for a fixed amount of compensation (including retirement benefits) and then to abandon your contractual obligations . . . that is the essence of depravity.

    Many members of the Legislature supported Senate Bill 1 in 2010 which took contracted, accrued, fully-vested retirement benefits that were earned over 30 years from PERA retirees.  To date, a District Court judge has countenanced this theft in a ridiculously flawed ruling that is under appeal.  As the state Legislature was told in debate on SB1, the theft of the retiree’s contracted COLA is immoral, and will ultimately be overturned.  Any other outcome will degrade the rule of law in our nation.

    As it stands now, in Colorado we lock up our citizens for petty theft, but celebrate the theft of billions by elected officials.  Read all about it at saveperacola.com

  3. nancycronknancycronk says:

    this is a land mine at election time.

  4. MADCO says:

    The only question is whether we give it away or get value.

    Like Pinnacol. Like fracking.  

    The legislative agenda is to privatize Colorado. And why not?

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