COLORADO SPRINGS – Republican CU Regent candidate Matt Arnold’s credibility was attacked Wednesday by El Paso County GOP Chair Eli Bremer and County Treasurer Bob Balink, who accused the candidate of misrepresenting a “Graduate Diploma in International Studies” as a “Masters degree.”
At issue is Arnold’s characterization of a “One-year Graduate Diploma in International Studies” awarded in May 1992 by the International Bologna Center (in Italy) of The Johns Hopkins University.
Arnold is running against Brian Davidson, an anesthesiologist from Arvada, for the at-large CU Regent seat; the primary contest winner will challenge incumbent Democrat Regent Stephen Ludwig of Lone Tree.
Arnold responded to the allegations by saying Bremer was making an issue over semantics, after the candidate had equated a graduate diploma awarded in Europe to a Masters degree in America. Arnold also questioned the ethics of Bremer and Balink, a member of the GOP executive committee, for getting involved in a primary race which could be perceived as violating the county party bylaws, and their motivations.
“Eli is abusing his position and power in a personal vendetta against me and my wife,” asserted Arnold, referring to a well documented feud between Bremer and then county GOP Secretary Sarah Anderson Arnold.
“Mr. Arnold has stated publically (sic) on multiple occasions that he has a Master’s Degree. At least one such occurrence has been recorded on video, easily verified,” said Bremer in a press statement Wednesday. “Also at the 2012 Colorado Republican Assembly, Mr. Arnold stated in his nomination speech that he has a ‘Graduate Degree,’ also verifiable on video.”
Bremer also based his allegation on an email that ironically was sent by Arnold in response to an anonymous email attacking him on this very issue.
On April 12, someone calling themselves “John Cougar”, sent a blast email to the county party’s state delegates and alternates attacking Arnold. The all-cap email addresses indicated the perpetrator had used the county party’s database.
“…HE DOES NOT HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE. He is lying… At Saturday’s State Assembly – please save the Republican Party a black eye and vote against Matt Arnold,” asserted the email.
Outraged, Arnold forwarded the email to county party Chief Operating Officer Bill Roy and said, “Please investigate – I am considering filing charges under Colorado’s criminal libel statute against the perpetrator of this libelous action.”
“Someone is either ignorant, or intentionally distorting the facts. My Master’s is from the School of Advanced Studies (SAIS) – Bologna Center (in Italy). SAIS is associated with Johns Hopkins… I can show my diploma to anyone who’s interested,” declared Arnold.
It was a damning statement that Bremer and Balink used against Arnold.
But in April, Roy had responded, “Very sorry to see this very cowardly and imprudent attack… I doubt you have a case for libel, but if you discover who’s using our stolen database, we’ll both have a case for theft and FTC email fraud.”
The party’s database had been hijacked last year, and Roy told Arnold that the executive committee had discussed “prosecuting the criminal who stole it and the idiots who propagated the crime by using the list for nefarious, libelous purposes… (we will) legally hammer the perpetrators. Mercilessly.”
Sarah Anderson Arnold said Wednesday that county party Vice Chair David Williams had been accused of swiping the database, but no charges have been brought against him.
Sources said that Williams had sent emails in support of Sarah Anderson Arnold last year when she was chastised for having made headlines in her criticisms of Senate Bill 200, the Healthcare coverage exchange bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Amy Stephens of Colorado Springs.
Her public statements against the bill, dubbed “AmyCare” by detractors, were made months before reapportionment maps tossed Stephens into House District 19 and a contentious primary against Rep. Marsha Looper (R-Calhan) in December 2011.
The dispute between Bremer and Sarah Anderson Arnold made headlines in the Colorado Springs Independent, led to her being sanctioned by the party executive committee last summer, and a resolution passed by the committee to ban public statements against primary candidates and elected officials by party officers. She resigned several months later – and issued a scathing assessment of Bremer and some members of the committee.
Nearly two months after the April email attack, Matt Arnold had heard nothing of the investigation into the source. Instead he was the target of an investigation.
“Republicans have a right to know if a candidate has lied about his academic credentials before they cast their ballot,” said Bremer. “I encourage Mr. Arnold to either provide conclusive evidence that contradicts Johns Hopkins’ records or take responsibility for his false statements.”
In the wake of media statements, emails leaked from party headquarters to reporters. In response to the inquiries by The Colorado Observer, Arnold sent a copy of his academic diploma and a link to the video of his nomination speech at the state GOP assembly (Arnold’s speech begins at around 3:35 of the video).
“I earned my graduate degree there, (Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Italy) and I came back to Washington, D.C. and I continued to study there,” Arnold told delegates.
Arnold said that he’d dropped out of graduate school to take a job at the Pentagon, and never finished the thesis. Had he finished the second year in school and the thesis, Arnold would have been awarded a Masters degree.
In an email to Republicans attending precinct caucuses in February, Arnold described himself as a “5th generation Coloradan, a CU graduate (with honors), a decorated military veteran, and the founder and director of Clear The Bench Colorado, a judicial accountability movement in the 2010 election cycle.”
Arnold’s higher education reform goals included, “No More Ward Churchills!”
Bremer and Balink seized on the battle cry, equating Arnold’s alleged transgression to Ward Churchill’s plagiarism sin that caused the CU Boulder professor to be fired.
“This is far worse, in my view, than Professor Ward Churchill’s dishonest representations,” declared Balink, who added that If Arnold lied about his degree, he should get out of the primary so Davidson, “a gentleman of the highest integrity,” can win.
“I do not believe that the Republican Party should try to cover up (Arnold’s) actions,” said Bremer in an email to a reporter. “I understand that Kyle Hybl is interested in commenting on Mr. Arnold’s academic background” and provided the CU Regent’s phone number.
Hybl and CU Regent Steve Bosley have endorsed Davidson. CU Regents Jim Geddes and Sue Sharkey have endorsed Arnold. In addition, state Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) and former CU President and U.S. Senator Hank Brown back Davidson; Colorado Christian University President and former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong supports Arnold.