Despite fraud claims, Nelson ignores calls to exit House race

Despite fraud claims, Nelson ignores calls to exit House race

Amid accusations that he has falsified multiple aspects of his background, Aurora Schools Board of Education member Eric Nelson continues to resist calls for him to resign from the board or to step down from his race for a Colorado House seat in Aurora.

Nelson is one of two Democrats vying in the June 28 primary for the House District 42 seat being vacated by Democrat Rep. Rhonda Fields. He faces Dominique Jackson.

First reported by The Colorado Statesman (subscription required for access), Nelson has been accused of falsifying his background, including his educational credentials, and other details of his personal life, such as being married to two different women at the same time and failing to disclose a criminal record when applying to the state Division of Insurance for a bail bonds license.

Nelson’s website claims he holds a BA in psychology from Southeastern University, a Master of Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University, an MBA from Northeastern and a doctorate in organizational psychology from the now-defunct Southeastern University in Washington, D.C. which closed in 2009.

Southeastern, a private Christian institution in Florida, doesn’t offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. The university does offer a Bachelor of Science degree in the field, but the Registrar’s Office could find no record of Nelson ever having attended the university.

And a photo of Nelson’s social work diploma, sent to the Aurora Sentinel, has multiple errors. The institution’s name is misspelled in the seal as “Notthwest,” and the degree is listed as a “Master of Science in Social Work.” Northwest’s program has been accredited by the Council of Social Work Education since 1977 as a “Master of Social Work.”

In addition, the 1999 diploma, says the degree comes from “Glassboro College” at Northwest Nazarene and issued in New Jersey. Northwest Nazarene does not have a Glassboro College and is located in Idaho. New Jersey-based Glassboro changed its name to Rowan University in 1992.

His MBA diploma from Northeastern, as reported by The Statesman (subscription required), also appears to be fraudulent. It was issued in May, 2002, two years after Nelson moved to Colorado. The diploma is signed by “Winston Washington, president.” Richard Freeland was president of Northeastern for 10 years, from 1996 to 2006.

Both graduate diplomas also show academic honors; summa cum laude for the MBA and magna cum laude for the “Master of Science in Social Work.” But both institutions award those designations only to undergraduate students, as is standard in higher education.

Fields, who is competing in a primary against Rep. Su Ryden for the Senate seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Morgan Carroll of Aurora, yesterday reportedly called on Nelson to withdraw his candidacy and to resign from the Aurora school board, citing other issues raised about his background, including bigamy, a failure to pay child support and a questionable history of military service.

Rep. Alec Garnett of Denver, chair of the House Majority Project, which supports Democratic candidates running for the House, has also reportedly asked Nelson to quit the race.

Nelson did not respond to an email request for comment. On Tuesday afternoon, the day after The Statesman’s first story broke, he posted the following on his Facebook page: “’The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Photo credit: Nelson for Colorado

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About the Author

Marianne Goodland

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.

1 Comment

  1. Peter Coulter on said:

    My hope is that he will stay in and fight this travesty. That way, Mike Donald (R) will win by a landslide.

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