El Paso County Republican Party chairman Eli Bremer says that it's his "moral imperative to stand for the truth" that drove him to speak out against his fellow Republican, and candidate for the University of Colorado's at-large regent seat, Matt Arnold.
Bremer's vice-chairman, David Williams, calls the statement "downright wrong."
Arnold is running in a primary against Brian Davidson, and at issue are claims that Arnold made about his graduate studies in the early 1990s.
"It now appears that the party is supporting Brian Davidson," says Williams. "Eli doesn't need to carry the water for Arnold's opponent. He doesn't need to interject himself in that; he should not have spoken."
From Bremer's press statement:
I have been an outspoken proponent of neutrality by Party Officers in Republican Party Primaries. However, I believe that when dealing with issues of integrity, there is moral imperative to stand for the truth. In the same way that if I knew of a financial fraud committed by a Democratic or Republican candidate I would feel ethically obligated to disclose it, I believe I am similarly obligated to report academic fraud. This is not a political issue; it is one of placing principles of integrity and honesty above political gain.
On April 12 of this year, an e-mail was sent to a number of Republicans from someone using the name "John Cougar." The email read, in part:
I am writing to you today about Matt Arnold, who is running for CU Regent.
First off I am biased because if have crossed paths with Matt and his now fiance thru GOP politics in El Paso County. I could go on and on about the two of them and their antics but that is not what this email is about. This email is about Matt misrepresenting his education.
I have heard him firsthand and from others that he has a Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins - there is only one problem HE DOES NOT HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE. He is lying.
Arnold responded by emailing the local party's chief operating officer Bill Roy. In that email, Arnold wrote:
This appears to have been sent out by "John Cougar" (not his real name) using the El Paso County mailing list. I have my suspicions as to the actual identity of the source.
Please investigate -
I am considering filing charges under Colorado's criminal libel statute against the perpetrator of this libelous action.
Arnold does not have a master's degree from Johns Hopkins. What he has is a one-year Graduate Diploma in International Studies at the Bologna Center of The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, as we verified with the assistant registrar for Johns Hopkins today. A copy of the diploma, provided by Arnold, is below.
On his website, Arnold describes his time at SAIS: "From there, Matt ventured to Bologna, Italy for graduate school (School of Advanced International Studies, SAIS) before returning to Washington, DC to complete his studies (concentrating in Strategic Studies and International Economics)."
According to Arnold, the reference to his master's degree was shorthand: "Instead of parsing over language. It's a graduate diploma; it's a graduate diploma in international studies."
Did Arnold lie about his degree? Bremer certainly seems to think so:
A Republican candidate for office, Matt Arnold, candidate for CU Regent At‐Large, sent the El Paso County Republican Party a statement that appears to contain an outright lie.
Additionally, Mr. Arnold has stated publically on multiple occasions that he has a Master’s Degree. At least one such occurrence has been recorded on video, easily verified. Also, at the 2012 Colorado Republican Assembly, Mr. Arnold stated in his nomination speech that he has a “Graduate Degree,” also verifiable on video.
Vice-chairman Williams is calling for an immediate apology from Bremer.
"The Republican Party adheres to a strict neutrality policy in primaries," says Williams. "The actions of Eli Bremer were not sanctioned by party leadership. He never consulted the executive committee for permission. He certainly didn't consult me. What he did was unacceptable. It is unprecedented."
Williams also suggests that Bremer violated the county party's bylaws.
No candidate for any designation or nomination for partisan public office should be endorsed, supported, or opposed by the El Paso County Republican Central Committee, acting as an entity, or its elected officers individually or as a group, or committees before the Primary Election, unless such candidate is unopposed in the Primary Election.
"The reason for that bylaw," says Williams, "is that we don't want the appearance of the party being some corrupt elitist machine. We want the voters choosing who our nominees are and not the party."
Williams worries now that it appears that the party is supporting Arnold's opponent, which, he says, is misleading and wrong.
"The first thing Eli needs to do is issue an immediate apology to Matt Arnold and the voters of Colorado," Williams says. "I am going to be contacting the entire executive committee as something needs to happen. He needs to be held to the same standard that he held Sarah Anderson."
Anderson, if you'll remember, is the former party secretary who clashed epically last year with Bremer over her vocal opposition to House Majority Leader Amy Stephens' bill that implemented Colorado's health benefit exchange. Anderson also happens to be married to Arnold.
Arnold says that he has spoken with state chairman, Ryan Call, and claims that Call says Bremer didn't contact him prior to issuing the release. Call has not responded to our request for comment.
"Eli is a little man who is abusing the power of his office to carry out a vendetta," Arnold says. "This is not in the interest of the party."
When contacted today, Bremer stood behind his statement:
In that statement, I gave evidence that appears to show that Matt Arnold has lied about having a Masters Degree. Johns Hopkins University, where Matt Arnold studied, has stated that they did not award him a Masters Degree. However, Matt Arnold directly stated to the El Paso County Republican Party that he has a Masters Degree. This discrepancy needs to be resolved.
This is not a neutrality issue, and you are wrong to treat it that way. If Mr. Arnold has, as all indications show, lied about having a Masters Degree; then the Republican Party has the right to hold ourselves accountable. I find it surprising that anyone would question the propriety of this. If people like Mr. Williams would rather have the Republican Party cover up fraud, I encourage them to openly affirm that.
You can read Bremer's full statement by downloading this PDF: