We live in a world where insanity reigns not just in Washington but right here in Aurora, where one of the most outlandish, prolific liars ever to get elected to anything keeps his job and may run for re-election.
President Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway may be the king and queen of alt-facts and beltway bull. Aurora Public Schools board member Eric Nelson, however, is the all-time master of mendacity in Colorado.
Nobody lies like Nelson, and he’s still at it.
Nelson was elected to the APS school board in 2013. It was another election where voters paid too little attention, including The Aurora Sentinel.
We dutifully asked candidates questions about their positions and qualifications, and we passed all that on to readers. After being seated on the seven-member board, Nelson turned out to be pretty unremarkable — until last year.
In spring of 2016, he appeared on statewide political radar when he decided to run for a state House position, shouldering his way into a busy primary election season.
Beginning with a story by Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesmen, Nelson’s fabricated academic and military record imploded.
Subsequent stories by the The Aurora Sentinel, and a thorough, $18,000, private investigation paid for by the Aurora Public Schools district, revealed that Nelson lied about all four of the academic degrees he touted on his resume. If you look at his biography on the APS website, it’s starkly blank among the who’s who of fellow board directors.
But the most egregious and potentially criminal thing Nelson did was lie about his military record. He tried to pass himself off as an honored soldier. In reality, he had enlisted for just a few weeks in the Air Force and then left.
Nelson passed off pictures of himself in a decorated Air Force uniform and actually claimed a military career very different from reality. The military decorations he falsely touted are a possible violation of the Stolen Valor Act. Last year, Congressman Mike Coffman asked federal attorneys to investigate a possible violation. The 2013 law prohibits lying about military honors to gain something “tangible.” It’s unclear whether winning elected office meets that threshold. Federal investigators wouldn’t comment last week one way or the other on a possible Nelson case, according to a query by Aurora Sentinel reporter Ramsey Scott.
Nelson’s certainly guilty in the court of public opinion, however. The flap resulted in former APS Superintendent John Barry appearing before the board. Barry is a retired Air Force Major General.
“Mr. Nelson, veterans in Aurora ask for your resignation,” a perturbed Barry told Nelson and the school board Aug. 13 last year.
The demand was met with silence, insolence and prevarication.
Democratic Party officials called him out and asked him to go away. This newspaper and others did the same thing by demanding his resignation.
After being outed for making up just about everything he bragged about, the Aurora Public School board tried to oust him. They couldn’t. They censured him, but as an elected official, Nelson was able to keep his school board seat.
In fact, last week when confronted with questions about a new slate of academic honors he now claims on social media, he said that he is a victim of “political smearing” instead of admitting he’s an outlandish liar and apologizing for it.
The victimization is just as fictitious as his past resume. The entire community called Nelson out for his shameless fabrications and jaw-dropping lies about his military record. His politics had nothing to do with his getting caught and his subsequent castigation.
Now he’s saying he has all new academic degrees.
Nelson’s resume said he’s attained a bachelor’s degree in theology, a master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate degree in theology and honors along with postgraduate certificates in the field of counseling and an honorary degree, The Sentinel reported last week.
One of the schools that bestowed Nelson with a masters degree charges $100 for some certificates based on life experience instead of education. None of the schools he now lists as alma maters have any type of accreditation that most of academia is familiar with.
And none of this excuses or mitigates what he’s done in the past.
He’s shameless. He’s an embarrassment to the school district and all of Aurora, made doubly so because he votes on the academic credibility and direction of a large school district.
Go away, Nelson.
If he can’t at the very least apologize for what he’s done and make a Herculean effort to rectify so much damage, then he needs to leave.
It’s impossible to test how lucid or honest Nelson is being in saying that he is actually considering running for re-election and that he hasn’t decided.
So Aurora needs to help him make up his mind. Message him at Aurora Public Schools, [email protected], and share whether you think he should continue on and what his chances would be in the election.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]