Despite allegations, Nelson vows to stay in HD 42 race, retain Aurora school board seat

254

AURORA | Facing a barrage of allegations and multiple calls to drop out of the Democratic primary for Colorado House District 42 as well as resign from his seat on the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education, aspiring Aurora politico Eric Nelson made no indication of plans to capitulate in a newsletter sent via email Wednesday afternoon, June 15.

as.EricNelson.6.16.16AIn his letter, Nelson addressed several — but not all — of the allegations cast toward him in recent days, including misrepresentation of his short-lived military service, felony warrants, misconstruing his academic record and missing child support payments. That all of the alleged incidents occurred in the past served as the basis for his decision not to drop out of the race for the State House, or resign his seat on the APS school board.

“There are no current criminal charges, inquires (sic) or investigations,” Nelson wrote. “Therefore, there has been no false pretense or misrepresentations of me to the public. Furthermore, to ask for a resignation or withdrawal is overstepping legal boundaries of the qualifications for an elected public office. … I am fulfilling my duties.”

Of his checkered past, which includes several arrests for an array of charges including domestic violence, Nelson wrote that he has learned from his mistakes.

“As a young man I did make some mistakes but I am wiser now, I’ve learned some life lessons and it is my hope, and has become a part of my mission in life that through my experience to somehow help others to avoid such situations,” he wrote.

Nelson also pointed a finger at media organizations for their reporting. Following the publication of an initial report by Ernest Luning of The Colorado Statesman on Monday, several local media outlets have reported on Nelson’s academic credentials and ways in which he has represented his criminal history to a state licensing board.

“The Medias (sic) characterization of me as a man is inappropriate and inconsistent with the facts,” he wrote.

Regarding claims that he boasted academic degrees that he did not in fact earn, Nelson pointed to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as to why members of the media have been unable to substantiate his claims. Nelson sent photos of two credentials — one from Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho and one from Northeastern University in Boston — to The Sentinel late Tuesday night, though the validity of the certificates has been questioned. The name of the university is misspelled in the Northwest Nazarene seal found at the bottom center portion of the degree. Additionally, a check of Northwest Nazarene’s course and degree offerings finds that the school does not offer a Master of Science degree in the field of social work — only a master of social work. Other text on the certificate also refers to “Glassboro College” — now Rowan University — which has no connection to Northwest Nazarene.

Nelson did not address earlier questions as to whether the certificate is a forgery in his fundraising email.

Several notable Democrats, including Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) and the incumbent Democrat in HD 42 state Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), have called for Nelson to drop out of the race. Fellow APS school board member Dan Jorgensen also cast doubt on Nelson’s qualification to serve on the local school board. Nelson was elected as an at-large board member in 2013 and has more than a year left in his current term.

Nelson is facing Dominique Jackson in the upcoming June 28 primary for HD 42.