The Continuing Trouble With Rick Brainard

The Grand Junction Sentinel's Duffy Hayes updates on the story of Grand Junction City Councilor Rick Brainard, who has resisted all attempts to get him to resign following an arrest and subsequent guilty plea for a domestic violence incident that occurred just after his election:

A promise by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to “review our position” on Grand Junction City Councilor Rick Brainard — who pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence stemming from an April 6 incident while he was a councilor-elect — was met Thursday with another pledge to consider its position if a recall election is called.

The chamber endorsed Brainard as a candidate for the City Council, among other supposedly pro-business endorsements. When reports of his arrest became public, the chamber in a Facebook post cited Brainard’s entitlement to due process in responding to calls for the group to renounce its support of him.

Well folks, Mr. Brainard has had his "due process," and he pled guilty to the charge after his nolo contendere plea attempt was appropriately rejected by the judge. But it appears that the court wasn't the "due process" the Chamber was referring to? They attempt to explain:

“Once they are in office … we comment on their actions and whether or not they are good for business or bad for business,” [chamber President and CEO Diane] Schwenke said. “But in terms of whether or not they are fit to serve the office, we’ve never, in all of our history, commented on that.” [Pols emphasis]

But apparently they had promised to undertake such a review with Brainard. Now, the story is they will "revisit" their support only if a recall election is held–which Brainard's opponents say is underway. As we and local readers have written in this space, Brainard's domestic violence arrest and subsequent refusal to step aside have outraged women in Grand Junction, who have dogged his every move with taped-mouthed silent protests–a reference to Brainard's statement to arresting officers that slapping his girlfriend was the only way to get her to "shut her mouth." Other community organizations like the Grand Junction Economic Partnership have forced Brainard to resign, and he lost his job as a vice president of West Star Aviation.

But not the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, who is standing by their man! Whether it's Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis' crass attempts to beat a ticket by invoking his position, or Rep. Jared Wright's hypocritically lecturing about "personal responsibility"–and now institutional excuse making for a city councilor who beat up his girlfriend–there is enough public disgrace in this conservative stronghold to make anyone cynical.


11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. PitaPita says:

    I left the GJ Chamber 10 or 12 years ago when they were taken over by the O & G interests and ceased to give a damn about small business, environmental quality or anything else that makes GJ a great place to live.  Then they got into partisan politics and it's gone downhill from there.  Sad really.  At one time the chamber was all about civic pride and developing a River Front for future generations – now it's all about civic control and greed.

  2. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Some here will remember that, about two years ago, Diane Schwenke, as CEO of the GJ Chamber of Commerce, hand delivered a letter to the Western Colorado Congress office, cancelling our paid, and longstanding, membership. In the letter, she cited "philosophical differences" as the reason for our ostracism.

    It was actually because of her distress over WCCs' firm opposition to the plans of  Brady Trucking to set up shop by the long-planned river park and by my appearance at the Chambers' "energy briefing" two days before. Kathy Hall was reportedly "enraged" at my impudence, for continually correcting Steve King and Josh Penry as they tried to spew a bunch of lies to the chamber membership.

    The chamber is a partisan player in Mesa County with the "oil and gas before all" wing of the Republican party calling the shots. Diane, has become one of the most politically powerful women in the county.

    Idiot cousins in influential places are a natural consequence of feudalism…Rick Brainard is a perfect example of that phenomenon.


    • Gray in Mountains says:

      @ Duke. Wow. That is incredible. Their board must walk in lockstep. Wonder if there will be any dissenting candidates running for the board in their next election

  3. MADCO says:

    Did he drive while substance impaired, and with a gun under the seat?

    Did he shoot at his gf?

    Did he attempt to use his position to improperly influence law enforcement?

    Did he use his discretionary budget unethically?

    You guys…for all we know his gf had buyer's remorse or something.

  4. Konola says:

    The women and the men who support them who are trying to recall Brainard have been quietly making progress. They have organized a committee and have plans to rent a downtown office space to inform citizens about domestic abuse and to get petitions sighed. When I know more, I'll post it here.

    In the meanwhile, a slightly different group of women have targeted the Chamber of Commerce and have begun a letter writing campaign to Chamber members asking them to resign their membership until the Chamber publicly states that they no longer support Brainard. They are also planning boycotts of Chamber businesses.

    The women in this community are quite determined and not going away any time soon.

    Just to make your head spin a little, an article in today's Sentinel reports that Brainard petitioned the courts for permission to leave the county to go on a business trip to Saudia Arabia. Evidently he has become gainfully employed by a company that teaches pilots to fly both domestically and internationally. No mention was made of the curriculum, including whether it includes both take-offs and landings.


  5. gertie97 says:

    @ Konola: I hope you're right that the recall committee is getting its act together. There's a groundswell of support for the recall so there will be no problem getting signatures and votes.

    As for the group working to battle the chamber, their efforts might be better served if they urged chamber members to support the chamber getting out of political endorsements on individual races. The case can be made that groups of all kinds, from chambers to environmental groups, are within their roles to take stands on issues. But endorsing candidates is a bad business. I hope the women you refer to might consider taking such a tack, if for no other reason that boycotts have little chance of success and often lead to the targets digging in against them, instead of considering an alternative.

    Just a thought.


    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      Is O&G the only significant business in the area? If so, then they will own the chamber. If you have other sizable players, then you need to get them to bring the chamber under control. Because the chamber will always be a tool of the most powerful business interests.


      • Curmudgeon says:

        They're not the only significant business; it's just that Oil & Gas are the industries where the most blatant conflicts of interest have been ignored.

        Mesa County is so rife with backroom deals, conflicts of interest, yellow journalism, and blatant nepotism that someone who didn't live here would think it was satire, written by some hack who had indulged in too many stereotypes.

        • Konola says:

          Curmudgeon has aptly described Mesa County. Unfortunately the other businesses here are not as well endowed as oil and gas–agriculture, tourism, health care.

          What I find amazing is the fact that we are the largest "city" between Denver and Salt Lake City, yet we behave like a high school clique.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        O&G interests are so thoroughly ensconced in the power centers in this community they have become almost like a religion. To challenge anything the oil and gas industry desires or says is tantamount to heresy. It is a reflection, not of their significance, but of their attitude. Ruthless and mean are the two adjectives that immediately spring to mind when considering the behavior of O&G folks hereabouts….oh, and dishonest…that, too.

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