Eric Nelson is having his lifetime “wow” moment at the expense of Aurora and pretty much all of Colorado.
If you haven’t followed Nelson’s story, let me briefly sum it up for you. The 38-year-old Aurora man has a seat on the Aurora Public Schools board, is a Democrat running for state House District 42, and has lied repeatedly about his past academic records, his criminal records and has clearly lied about his military records, possibly now tempting federal charges for misrepresenting Air Force honors.
And rather than slink away after been clearly exposed in the Aurora Sentinel and other media as a very sad and troubled fabulist, he’s doubling down on his deceptions and saying he has no intention on quitting the APS school board, nor his race for House District 42.
Whether it’s out of desperation or sheer arrogance, Nelson is determined to argue against overwhelming evidence that he lied about supposed academic degrees he’s achieved, and that he “misrepresented” his Air Force records, and that’s my generous term for “lied like a cheap rug” about his service and his rank.
He surprised me and the rest of Colorado when he actually appeared at an APS school board meeting Tuesday, where other school board members demanded his resignation, censured his non-legal duties and agreed to strike his biography from the school district website.
“I find it profoundly unnecessary for the board to ask me to step down from my position as secretary and be removed from committee and school assignments when my duties are clearly being fulfilled without incident, regardless of my personal life,” Nelson said. “I have no intention of resigning from this board.”
I, too, find it “profoundly unnecessary” for the board, this newspaper, the Colorado Democratic Party, his constituents and several others to first ask and then demand Nelson quit his charade and at least muster the integrity go the hell away.
Nelson has on campaign websites and other public documents boasted about having multiple degrees that even cursory scrutiny makes it clear are as bogus as his public outrage of being asked to go away. In a picture Nelson sent the Aurora Sentinel newsroom, the name of the university on his “diploma” is misspelled in the seal of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.
What’s more, the school’s offerings shows that the school does not offer a master of science degree in social work — it’s a master of social work degree. The certificate also refers to “Glassboro College” — now Rowan University — and that has no connection to Northwest Nazarene, according to our story and others from last week.
What’s even worse is that Nelson has repeatedly boasted his career in the Air Force, which we have so far been unable to determine lasted for more than possibly maybe a few months. But a photo he’s used on campaign websites clearly shows him wearing the uniform of an Air Force Major — an achievement that takes many years — complete with honors for airborne battle duty.
“His ribbons are totally out of order,” Brent Spahn told school board members Tuesday, after having seen the photo. “He’s wearing at least two ribbons that are medals that I would be shocked if he is authorized to wear those. I typically only see (the medals) on general officers and admirals — flag officers. Never in my 27 years in the Marine Corps have I seen a Major wearing a defense superior service medal.”
Spahn and others are now talking about the 2013 Stolen Valor Act and wondering how to bring in the feds to investigate Nelson’s charade as a real crime.
Why lie? There is only one real requirement to sit on a school board or sit on the Colorado House of Representatives: integrity. And Nelson clearly is deficient there.
An articulate and once-seemingly well-meaning man, Nelson never needed to tell people he had advanced college degrees nor that he did anything other than get in and out of the military. Nelson could have, and was invited to, say anything he wanted, as long as it was true.
But only some or none of Nelson’s story is real, and so he forfeits his position because, despite the current state of American politics, here in Aurora, truth and integrity still matter.
Since he won’t resign and the school board has no power to remove him, it’s up to voters to force a recall election, which won’t cost much if its coordinated with the November general election. Until then, the APS school board needs to begin each meeting explaining that Nelson is censured, discredited, refuses to resign, and beyond the control of the school board, probably eliciting one regular response from anyone who happens into those meetings: “Wow.”
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