Thursday, June 14, 2012

There's something about Mary...

McLeod Republican leaders resign over Eric Harpel "stalker" allegations

Two leaders in the McLeod County Republican Party have resigned in response to Rep. Mary Franson's "stalker" allegations against chairman Eric Harpel.

The McLeod County GOP held a meeting this past Thursday where vice chair Marie Thurn and secretary Linda Senst quit their leadership positions. Both questioned Harpel's integrity, according to a local media report.

"We have lost something very, very vital," Thurn told the Hutchinson Leader in a story not available online. "We have lost who we are... It's been very disheartening on my part. This isn't what I got into politics for."

Senst's letter of resignation "cited issues of integrity," according to the paper, which quoted Senst saying she disagreed "with how leadership issues have been handled."

Their reaction to Franson's allegations contrasts sharply with former McLeod County GOP chairman Craig Hoel's, who brushed off Franson's side of the story.

Neither Thurn nor Senst could be reached for comment over the weekend.
Republican state representative Mary Franson filed for a restraining order against Harpel, her ex-boyfriend, last month.

Harpel recently visited Franson's Saint Paul apartment and demanded a pair of panties before he would return her belongings, Franson alleged. (Harpel denies the claim.)

Harpel says he was "unaware" before Thursday's meeting that a chunk of his leadership team would be resigning.

"Not once prior to be[ing] elected as Chairman or during or after did either one of the[m] look me in the eyes and question my leadership," Harpel wrote in an email. He assumes they quit over Franson's allegations.
Rep. Mary Franson got restraining order against McLeod County GOP chair Eric Harpel

Rep. Mary Franson took out a restraining order against McLeod County Republican Party Chair Eric Harpel after he "stalked" her, made threats, and sent "lewd" emails, according to a petition filed in Douglas County. The paperwork, filed May 10, names Harpel as Franson's ex-boyfriend.

On May 2, Franson claims, Harpel arrived uninvited to her St. Paul apartment. He wanted her to meet at Senor Wong's next door, but she declined without a "chaperone." Harpel asked to go upstairs to pick up dishes they'd purchased together from Ikea, but she refused.

"I asked him when I could get my belongings and he said he wanted my panties in exchange," Franson told the court. "I told him he was a pervert and to get out -- he left."

Reached for comment, Franson declined to discuss the situation. Harpel, who describes himself as a "Loving Dad of 3, Brother, and Friend" on Twitter, did not return several voicemails seeking an interview.

In her petition for a restraining order, Franson accuses Harpel of stalking. Franson claims Harpel said he has "ears on the ground" who spied on her, "and has proven it" by texting her about events she attended without him.

 "He stalks me online," Franson claimed, and "accuses me of all kinds of lewd behavior over email."
According to Franson, Harpel even contacted a "local business owner" to accuse him of being involved with Franson because the two "had been texting."

Since that time, "[Harpel] insists this business owner APOLOGIZE to him via email AND phone call for being 'emotionally' involved with me," Franson claims.

In the request for the restraining order, Franson includes numerous emails and text messages documenting the alleged harassment by Harpel.

"If you'd taken just a fraction of my smarts and advice you'd be in a way better position then you are now in a lot of areas in your life," Harpel texted this past April. "You choose not to and you'll have [to] swallow that pill if things don't go your way. I'm pretty darn smart in some areas and your [sic] not. You could've used me, but you wandered."

The couple broke up in January, according to the complaint. An email Harpel sent her in April traces the dissolution to the rise of Franson's political career.

"You were manageable until you started getting letters and emails that started with the word 'honorable,'" Harpel wrote in one text message.

He accuses her of blowing him off on "swearing in day" when she was walking with her 14-year-old daughter Helena.

"You were walking with Helena when I finally caught up to you and when you first saw me you kept walking turned your head back and gave me a nod," Harpel complains. "Yep your lover a head nod! Was expecting a hug maybe even a kiss, AND to be introduced to your HS friends. No hug, no kiss, and I introduced myself to your friends! Wasn't happy about that one bit!"

Franson told police she was "completely frightened" because Harpel is "so jealous that he may end up harming me." Franson also said Harpel was "attempting to ruin my reputation my slandering my name -- doing whisper campaigns -- he is intimidating."

"I believe if this behavior continues that he will kill me out of jealous/rage," Franson writes. "if he can't have me -- no one will."


McLeod County GOP made Eric Harpel party chair despite "stalker" allegation

McLeod County Republicans knew that state representative Mary Franson had accused then-deputy party chair Eric Harpel of "stalking" her but decided to promote him to their top leadership post anyway.

Harpel's immediate predecesor, Craig Hoel, stepped down as the McLeod County GOP boss in March for "personal reasons." The party went through a process to find a candidate to replace him, Hoel said, and decided on Harpel after concluding that his behavior toward Franson didn't amount to "stalking."

"The truth is that nothing really happened,"
Hoel said. "Oh, there was a nasty email sent. Well, you know, then I'm guilty as charged. I've sent some pretty nasty emails to my lovely wife, who I'm still married with." 

Party of family values. Pathetic. 

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