Republicans Smear Republicans, Dave Balmer Edition

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.

41 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Libertad says:

    The GOP needs to do what Madigan can’t do and just polish off the damaged goods. Amendment 54 can’t come soon enough.

    I read where Marostica thought McNulty had the votes … that sounds more realistic to me.

    So where are these emails with stories from North Carolina … I want the juicy details ;). I mean screw the lobbyist pay-off, those involved die for those crimes.

    I want more on the resume padding, disappearances, a move out of state. Sounds Haggardy to me….

    • Another skeptic says:

      Seems to me that underlying all of this are some strong pro- and anti-Ballmer feelings and beliefs about him and his opponent.

      What are they? Why are his opponents putting the whole party at risk just to keep him from being minority leader? Are they afraid that if he becomes minority leader, Dems and the media will attack him and hurt the party even more?

      Or do they have strong doubts about his ethics, legislative and leadership skills, or just about his ambitions to be a gov or senator?

      The guy has an outstanding military record. He’s a major, retired, I think, in the Army. He has raised a lot of money for his campaigns and for campaigns of others, I hear.

      Is he too mushy on social issues, or what? Or too sold out to Bill Armstrong and Jim Dobson?

      Is McNulty that great? What has he paid to get to play? Why do his backers make him look like some kind of nutty politician?

      There has to be more to the story?  

      • Dan Willis says:

        I don’t recall the details, but when he first ran for the house seat there were stories about reaaly strange shit from wherever he lived before.

        They somehow involved a possible kidnapping and convenient amnesia, but like I said, I don’t recall the details. At the time I thought they were too “soap opera” to be true.

        • Another skeptic says:

          I recall reading about his history in the papers.

          The Rocky’s story quotes a former state rep as warning Balmer that this would come out and as telling him that he wasn’t ready for this. So it looks like his peers think his background would limit his effectiveness as a leader and would be the distraction it is today:


          • RedGreen says:

            That’s what’s strange — all of Balmer’s sordid tales were well documented and widely discussed in 2004. It was already “out,” but seems to have slipped from common knowledge the last few years. Do these Republicans really fail to do their homework to that extent?

          • Another skeptic says:

            Search the archives 2004


            House candidate’s past rГ©sumГ© drew scrutiny

            As a state legislator in North Carolina, David

            Balmer was found to have “embellishments” on his record. He says he learned from the mistake. Article 4 of 7 found

              Chris Frates

            Denver Post Staff Writer

            October 13, 2004; Page B-02

            Section: DENVER AND WEST

            Article ID: 1226004 — 522 words

            While Republican state House hopeful David Balmer is a new candidate in Colorado, he isn’t new to politics.

            Balmer, 42, served three terms in the North Carolina House before he was caught “embellishing” his rГ©sumГ© and lost a congressional primary.

            Balmer is facing Democrat Mollie Cullom in House District 39 to replace Republican Rep. Nancy Spence in southern Arapahoe County.

            Balmer was elected to the North Carolina House in 1988 at age 26. Click for complete article ($2.95)  

          • RedGreen says:

            in North Carolina, served three terms in the statehouse after being elected at the tender age of 26. Then, in a runoff for a congressional seat for which he was favored, his life fell apart over a resume-inflation scandal. (He also lost the election.) He moved to Colorado and started fresh with a clean slate. So clean, in fact, that when he ran for the statehouse here he neglected to mention his illustrious (and somewhat embarrassing) political past. The stories broke a couple weeks before the election and got wide attention but didn’t thwart his campaign, and seem to have slid off the face of the earth since then. Until this week …

      • Ben Stein's $$ says:

        Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?

      • Ben Stein's $$ says:

        Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?

  2. Middle of the Road says:

    Straight out of the Days of Our Lives playbook.

    Man, I love the Colorado Republicans. Never a dull moment.

  3. RedGreen says:

    we hardly knew ye.

  4. parsingreality says:

    ….to a teaser length?  No newspaper puts the whole story on the front page.

    It makes for a hell of a lot of scrolling when a few of these pile up.


  5. twas brillig says:

    They had dogs and a helicopter looking for him during the search.  

  6. droll says:

    I thought it was a ploy to make the GOP look clean and remind everyone that the Dems are dirty.  It would have been a brilliant way to throw mud on a liberal cause (maybe a union group?) and to make the new minority leader look so honest that he filed a complaint at the first hint of impropriety.

    I’m so dumb, I could run the Republican party.

  7. Steve Balboni says:

    What a bunch of idiots. They couldn’t handle this quietly amongst themselves so now the whole state gets to read, again!, about Balmer’s bizarre past.

    Every local paper should be calling their Republican state house representative and asking how much money Balmer has helped them raise.

    There have been rumors about Balmer and unethical fundraising practices for quite some time. It will be interesting to see if any of those rocks get kicked over as this story plays out.  

  8. Dan Willis says:

    Jeremy Pelzer says on his blog that the “unidentified lobbyist” who is included in the complaint is John Zakham.

    • RedGreen says:

      his fingers in a lot of scandalous pies lately. Nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

      Anyone have a gander why the chiropractors got involved in this skulduggery?  

      • Another skeptic says:

        One of the smartest ways to make health insurance more affordable is to reduced state mandates that force insurers to cover alternative care providers like Chiros.

        Chiros and other alternative providers have lobbied state legislators for years to get their services covered. And now that they have their profitable mandates, they don’t want to give them up.

        So they have serious lobbying and PAC programs. They pay to play, but they and the politicians usually are smart enough to not pay bribes. It appears that it may have gotten a little to close to that fine line this time.

        It’s a developing story.

        • My wife has been referred to a Chiropractor by a GP in the past.  The Chiropractor was able to do the job needed to fix her problem.

          I’d say that qualifies for treatment deserving of insurance.

          • Another skeptic says:

            No question that Chiros help many people, but that doesn’t mean that the state should mandate insurance coverage of their services.

            Insurers should be allowed to compete for business by offering or not offering specific benefits, including coverage of alternative providers’ services.

            Many insurers probably would give clients a choice of plans that do or don’t cover alternative providers’ services, which is what the providers don’t want. They know most people would forego such insurance to keep their monthly premiums as low as possible.

            Consumers should be allowed to choose the coverage they want, not to buy coverage they don’t want to afford or can’t afford.

            • They weren’t covering alternative services.

              The job of an insurance company isn’t to provide the best services to its customers – it’s to provide the best return on its shareholders investments.

              Companies shopping for insurance these days aren’t looking to see if it covers their employees’ favorite chiropractor, they’re looking to keep costs down, and that means minimizing the number of points of contact that the company claims reviewers have to manage.

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