Questions swirl around mysterious Utah conservative pundit Dan Baltes
Canceled Glenn Beck event fuels distrust
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man who out of nowhere emerged as an apparently trusted voice on conservative issues across the country has a bunch of people who don't trust him.
Frustrated with the government, Dan Baltes interjected himself into the high-profile debate on illegal immigration in Arizona, including a petition to oust the Pima County sheriff. He initiated an effort to draft a Florida congressman to run for president. Last week he appeared on Fox News as the leader of an effort to recall Wisconsin legislators. He also went on the air with Glenn Beck as part of the popular commentator's 8/28 Restoring Honor rally last summer. Dozens of publications have quoted him.
Baltes shrugs when asked about his seeming political arrival.
"I guess we're doing our job," he said from his Poplar Grove neighborhood apartment. "I guess people are catching on and listening to what we have to say."
Some of his fellow conservatives, though, say they're catching on to something else: Baltes isn't who he appears to be.
Baltes gained a following this past year through his online organizations, including Americans Against Immigration Amnesty, Restore Our Dreams, American Patriot Recall Coalition and Draft Allen West for President 2012. He routinely sends out press releases and had a talk radio blog for a while. He counts a former Idaho congressman among his board of advisers.
Observers say he has great voice and hits all the right notes.
Lori Gillespie, who lives in the Allegheny Mountains about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Pa., became acquainted with Baltes on Facebook and liked what he had to say about politics. She sent him $100.
"He speaks to conservatives very well," she said. "He makes you believe. You see him on Fox News, so you think you're contributing to an effort."
Tea party activists, right-wing bloggers and others, though, have taken to hammering him on the Internet. There's even a blog spot called Conning Conservatives, a sort of cyber wanted poster listing his criminal history and alleged schemes.
Conservative organizations and individuals around the country say the won't have anything to do with him because he makes promises he can't deliver, specifically a Glenn Beck speaking tour he promoted that fell apart.
On his websites, Baltes touts himself as a well-connected political strategist and an authority on illegal immigration. His Restore Our Dreams Productions bills itself as "one of the most recognized 'boutique' political production firms in the country." The only clients listed on the site are his three other organizations.
"The illustrious Dan Baltes," David Osborne said sarcastically when asked about his dealings with the man. "Have you lost money?"
Osborne is the Florida director of Get Out Of Our House, a nationwide group working to unseat incumbent U.S. House members. Baltes asked him to help promote the failed Beck tour.
Baltes, 51, does have some notable secrets he'd rather keep quiet.
His real name isn't Dan Baltes. It's Daniel Arthur Elliott. He took his third wife's last name after they married about 3 ½ years ago. He said he wanted to distance himself from an ex-girlfriend and an ex-wife.
"It was done to put myself off the radar and now I'm on the radar," he told the Deseret News.
And now that he's on the grid, so are the 10 years he spent in the Idaho prison system from the mid '80s to mid '90s for grand theft, forgery and writing bad checks. So is a domestic violence complaint and protective order issued against him in Colorado a decade ago.
Baltes said that was a long time ago and that he's not that way anymore. "It's not something I'm proud of," he said. "I'm not that person. That person is long gone."
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