Campaign contributors and volunteers for former Minneapolis city council candidate Charles Carlson are sending letters to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman urging him to investigate Carlson, former campaign workers said Wednesday.
Carlson abruptly dropped his campaign to represent Minneapolis’ 2nd Ward Sunday when reporters for the Minnesota Daily discovered he had fabricated important details about his life and provided the media with false documents about his educational background.
“Carlson’s deceptions were not merely unethical and wrong. They also likely were illegal,” said Jesse Berglund, who had volunteered for the campaign.
“Carlson used his deceptions to obtain campaign contributions from many people, who likely donated in reliance on the truth of his statements. This is theft through fraud, and everyone who donated to his campaign should be able to seek restitution for the amount they donated.”
Carlson told the Daily that the falsehoods he provided were the products of mental illness. Berglund said that that may be the case, but his interactions with Carlson did not indicate someone who could not make rational decisions.
“While I have the deepest sympathy for Charles and his history of mental illness, he did not appear of unsound mind at any time during my personal interactions with him,” he said.
Berglund sent out a message on Carlson’s Facebook campaign group Wednesday evening alerting supporters that he was asking for an investigation, and within hours the group disappeared, he said.
Carlson has not communicated with his supporters since Sunday, when the former candidate said he was suspending his campaign to officiate tennis matches. Many have been left wondering if their contributions will be returned.
“Many former supporters expressed to me their anger, frustration, and disbelief at what happened,” said Berglund. “As he suspended his campaign, he still could not apologize to his supporters, instead claiming that he ended the campaign so that he could officiate tennis elsewhere.”
Kyle Archer, who also volunteered for the campaign, said, “I think what bothers me the most about it, is that I helped him, unknowingly, cheat people out of thousands of dollars, and now I have to live with that. He had us all fooled.”