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A Republican leader in the Colorado House says he'll step down after a DUI arrest came to light

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 firmly conservative seat being fought over by at least nine Republican candidates, including U.S. 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 to do so Monday floundered in a tie.

A second attempt by the dissenting flank to hold another vote Tuesday was nixed by leadership, and set at a later date until Lynch addressed lawmakers on the floor of the House first thing Wednesday morning.

“I want it to be clear that I’m not stepping down because I won a close vote of no confidence,” he said. “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.

“I teach my four children about accountability. In life we make decisions, there are consequences, and we have to abide by those consequences,” said Republican Rep. Brandi Bradley in the caucus meeting Monday.

After the 2022 arrest, Lynch pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired and was sentenced to monitored sobriety and 18 months of probation. The sentence for a weapons charge was deferred, but the requirements included a handgun safety course and a prohibition on possessing firearms.

Lynch clocked 90 mph (145 kph) on an interstate north of Fort Collins, Colorado, on Sept. 30, 2022. 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.

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Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.