A few days ago, Colorado House Minority Leader Mike May announced his retirement from the legislature, citing declining business at his day job.
A few days later, Rep. May angrily announced that he was postponing his retirement, complaining of “outside influences [that] may have attempted to interfere with” the election of his successor.
This morning, new details are emerging about what happened–a good old-fashioned red-on-red backstab fest, one of the last things you want splashed across the headlines right after the party’s third humiliating defeat in as many elections. And it appears that one of the more…interesting members of the GOP House leadership, Rep. Dave Balmer, was both dealing and receiving below-the-belt punches in the scrum to replace May. As the Rocky Mountain News reports:
What looked to be a routine race to lead state House Republicans has led to the filing of an ethics complaint against a lawmaker and a lobbyist facing the same fate.
Rep. David Balmer, of Centennial, and Rep. Frank McNulty, of Highlands Ranch, were supposed to square off Friday for the minority leader’s slot. But the election was abruptly canceled Tuesday because of allegations of possible “outside influence” interfering with the process.
Balmer and McNulty have said they’ve done nothing wrong.
But Balmer has been hit with an ethics complaint, which has not yet been made public. And the legislature’s Executive Committee, which already was scheduled to meet Friday, is expected to file a complaint against Erik Groves, who lobbies for the Colorado Chiropractic Association…
Balmer’s supporters were upset that reporters were sent an anonymous e-mail Wednesday containing two newspaper stories about Balmer’s problems in North Carolina when he was in politics there.
“I thought, ‘Hmm, the vote count must not be going the way somebody wants,’ ” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.
Gardner thinks Balmer had the votes to win, but McNulty’s supporters say otherwise.
Gardner also said he wondered why the GOP caucus “all of a sudden” cared about possible improprieties in a leadership election. [Pols emphasis]
Why, indeed? After all, from Joe Stengel to 2007’s bizarre threats against legislators over a homeowner protection bill, they’ve never really cared before about “impropriety.” At least not until shame forced them to.
In Balmer’s particular case, his troubles in North Carolina politics before seeking a fresh start here in Colorado are hardly a secret: in fact it’s one of the strangest stories about any elected official we’ve ever read, and would probably have ended his career when first disclosed years ago–but Balmer has managed to keep it from becoming an issue because he is, by all accounts, incredibly skilled at raising money.
Until certain fellow Republicans decided the time had come to crush Balmer like an errant mob lieutenant? Sure looks that way, as the Rocky continues:
Balmer first was elected to the Colorado General Assembly in 2004.
The Rocky reported at that time that Balmer was a rising star in North Carolina Republican circles who lost a congressional bid in 1994 because he was caught padding his resume, then lying about it. A year later, he disappeared for 17 hours and turned up with a head injury complaining of amnesia.
Balmer later moved to Colorado and got involved in GOP politics.
When he first attempted to run for leadership in March 2006, some colleagues warned him they would go public about their concerns…
And they did–a couple of years later, when Balmer’s ambition stepped on the wrong toes and outweighed his utility. We realize by this point you’re probably asking yourself, “so why wasn’t this wacky resume/”amnesia” scandal a problem when Balmer’s only job was to rustle up fat checks for the GOP?”
But if you think about it, you’ve answered your own question.