DENVER (AP) — Colorado Republican state Rep. Mike Lynch announced he’s stepping down as minority leader Wednesday, a week after The Denver Post reported that Lynch was arrested in 2022 on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of a gun while intoxicated.
Lynch is also running for Congress in Colorado’s 4th District, a hotly contested race recently joined by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert after she announced she was switching districts.
The resignation arrived after a contentious few days where roughly half of Lynch’s caucus were trying to oust him with a vote of no confidence — a motion Monday which floundered in a tie.
“I want it to be clear that I’m not stepping down because I won a close vote of no confidence,” Lynch said to gathered lawmakers on the House floor. “I am stepping down because it’s the right thing to do because I’ve 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.”
Before the vote, caucus members argued that Lynch’s arrest, along with the lack of disclosure since, amounted to failed leadership and tarnished the party’s reputation.
After the arrest, Lynch pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and monitored sobriety, along with a required handgun safety course and a prohibition on possessing firearms. The sentence for a weapons charge was deferred.
Lynch clocked 90 mph (145 kph) on an interstate north of Fort Collins, Colorado, on Sept. 30, 2022, when Trooper Matthew King pulled him over and smelled alcohol on him, according to a Colorado State Patrol report obtained by The Denver Post.
The report details Lynch telling King he was a supporter of law enforcement and asking the trooper to call Colorado State Patrol’s legislative liaison at the state Capitol. Lynch reconsidered when King said he didn’t know who that was.
The representative previously told The Associated Press that he wasn’t asking for favors to dodge the consequences, but to give those he worked with a heads-up.
“I would like for this to serve as a message to fellow members to be careful, don’t make the mistake that I made,” he said, adding that he now doesn’t drink alcohol.
A vote to elect a new minority leader will be held Thursday morning.
Associated Press, The Associated Press