Republican candidate accused of mocking gay ex-classmate’s suicide attempt
Doug Wardlow, Republican candidate for Minnesota attorney general, has been accused of anti-gay bullying while he was at junior high and high school.
Ryan Durant, a former classmate of Wardlow, has claimed the Republican bullied him at Eagan High School for years because of his sexuality, reports Minnesota-based news outlet The St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Durant, 39, alleged Wardlow made fun of him after he attempted suicide in 10th grade.
Former classmates have backed Durant’s claims.
One ex-student, Jason Kopp, who used to a be close friend of Wardlow, said he and the 40-year old Republican candidate bullied Durant for years.
Speaking to the local publication, Kopp said he and Wardlow used to called Durant names like “fag” and “faggot.”
He added that the Republican once told Durant: “People like you should be shot.”
Kopp, who later came out as gay, has since apologised for his actions.
Sarah Beaulieu, another ex-pupil at the school, claimed that Wardlow used to bully her, calling her “slut” and “dyke,” even though she isn’t a lesbian.
She said she had seen Wardlow harass Durant, her friend, repeatedly.
“I hated going to school every day,” Durant told The St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I wanted out of there so bad.”
Durant told the publication that Wardlow was “a contributing factor, and a large one” to his poor mental health at the time.
He said that, when he came back to school after attempting suicide, Warlow told him: “What, you couldn’t even get that right?”
Wardlow denied the claims made against him in a statement emailed to The St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“I categorically deny these allegations about me when I was 14 years old,” he said.
“I never did or said anything remotely like the things alleged—not 26 years ago when I was 14, not ever.”
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He added: “As a father of three young children, I absolutely condemn all forms of bullying.”
Wardlow also claimed that Durant’s allegations were engineered by Democrat candidate Keith Ellison, who he said “has shopped this story to multiple media outlets as a last-minute ‘Hail Mary’ to save his failing campaign. ”
The Republican has previously been critical of equal marriage and has also spoken out against trans students using their preferred bathroom at school.
Wardlow was also previously a legal counsel for the anti-LGBT, Christian legal advocacy and training group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is listed as a hate group by extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Minnesota attorney general will be decided on November 6 during the US midterm elections. The current attorney general is Democrat Lori Swanson.