• January 25, 2024

    Colorado State House Minority Leader Mike Lynch Steps Down, Rose Pugliese Voted In

    January 25, 2024
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    Colorado Rep Mike Lynch. Official photo.

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    Yesterday on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives, Representative Lynch stepped down from his leadership role as Minority Leader. (enclosed video) “I am stepping down because it is the right thing to do — because I have become a distraction for my caucus and that is getting in the way of the hard work that we have to do in this building,” Lynch said.

    It is still uncertain how this will affect his bid to run for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. Lynch announced his bid prior to the news of his DUI arrest being made public.

    Monday, the Colorado House Republicans met as a caucus to vote on a resolution of “no confidence” regarding Minority Leader Lynch from Wellington. The news about Lynch while driving under the influence in 2022 was only made public in the media late last week. This included webcam videos beginning before he sped past a Colorado State Trooper and continuing past the time of his arrest.

    Given his behavior at the time of the incident and his unwillingness to properly disclose it, Representative Bottoms said publicly that he met with Lynch first privately to encourage him to resign. When Lynch refused, Bottoms said he then sought a vote to remove him. Representatives Degraaf and Bradley also met with Lynch prior to the caucus meeting to share their concerns and encouraged him to resign also. Their concerns were all met initially with a refusal from Lynch to resign on his own accord, and therefore, a call for a caucus meeting vote became necessary.

    All three of the named representatives stated this was not an attack on Lynch but a desire to hold Lynch properly accountable for not meeting “quality ethical standards” and was intended to maintain the integrity of the Republican caucus. During Monday’s meeting, the Minority Caucus Chair, Representative Mary Bradfield, was challenged multiple times to regarding the rules of the meeting and, while clearly struggling, deferred often to Representative Holtorf,  the Minority WHIP, and Representative Soper, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. Notably, prior to the beginning of a meeting like that one, notification must be sent to all parties involved by the Caucus Chair or Minority WHIP. However, Representative Luck did not receive timely notification to participate.

    On Monday, at the same meeting, there was also debate on whether to decide the motion by a public roll call vote vs. secret paper ballots. It was quickly decided to move forward with the paper pallot votes. The meeting was being called to discuss a “no confidence” vote. Representative Bradfield stated a “yes” would be a vote for Representative Lynch to remain the Minority leader and a “no” would be a vote to remove him. While the voting procedures continued, the vote should have been the exact opposite; a vote of “yes” should have qualified for removing Lynch. This created additional confusion.

    In the end, the votes were counted, and the conclusion was a tie at 9-9. Representative Holtorf and Soper stated, this meant the motion was voted down. While another representative was able to reach Representative Luck via phone prior to the vote count being finalized, the meeting was called, though never properly adjourned, and her vote was refused.

    There were two issues then regarding the final vote. Representative Luck was unable to cast her vote though she indicated an intent to do so, and there was confusion behind what a “yes” vote actually meant.

    While the meeting was a mess, it was also ultimately unnecessary. If Lynch had not failed to disclose the DUI prior to the Minority Leadership vote, this could have all been avoided. If he had at least chosen to reveal it to the public before the start of session, there would have been more time to address it accordingly. If he had resigned when asked after the press broke the news, no meeting would have been called. He did none of these.

    On Tuesday, Representative Bottoms made an announcement for a caucus meeting from the floor (with proper standing to do so), however, in an unprecedented move also laden with confusion, a majority of the minority caucus refused to attend.

    After yesterday's announcement by Lynch of his resignation, the caucus finally moved forward. They convened a meeting today and cast their vote for Rose Pugliese over Matt Soper as replacement in the Minority Leadership.

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