Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges apologized Tuesday that someone in her campaign created a job posting for a fictitious campaign to draft one of her opponents for a congressional run.
The posting advertised a finance and field staff job for something called "Draft Jacob Frey for Congress." Frey, a City Council member challenging Hodges in the mayoral race, said he had nothing to do with it, and on Monday Hodges' campaign manager Jorge Contreras said it was created by an intern working for Hodges' campaign.
"It happened. I did not know about it until it was brought to my attention, and when it was I immediately took action to remedy the situation," Hodges wrote on Facebook. "That is not the kind of campaign I choose to run nor the kind of person I choose to be. I extend my apologies to [Council Member] Frey and his team for the incident and will work to make sure nothing like that happens from my team again."
Hodges said she learned of the fake posting Monday night from Contreras, and told campaign staff that if something like this happens again, someone will lose their job.
"I communicated to my team, with vehemence, what my values are, what my expectations are about how we operate, that this falls outside my values, and that if it happens again the result will be termination," she said.
Hodges' Facebook apology referred to a "false account" rather than the fake job posting, but she reiterated Tuesday that her campaign had nothing to do with phony social media accounts.
"Draft Jacob for Congress" accounts popped up on Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks, which Frey said he and his team did not create. On Monday, after the Star Tribune's story about the fake job listing was published online, the social media accounts were deleted.
"The team did do the false job posting," Hodges said. "The team did not do any other posts or accounts."
Asked to respond Tuesday, Frey was noncommittal. "We appreciate the gesture and are withholding judgment until more facts come to light."
Hodges and Frey are in a five-way race for mayor with civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds, DFL state Rep. Raymond Dehn and filmmaker Aswar Rahman. Other candidates are expected to join the race.
With elections in November and caucuses on April 4, Frey has opened a wide fundraising lead thanks to an advisory opinion from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board allowing him to use money he raised as a council member to run for mayor. He has $177,627 in his war chest. Hodges has $41,170.
The false job posting was the second campaign controversy in less than a week.
On Thursday, the Hodges campaign delivered a letter, signed by multiple candidates for city office, to the Minneapolis DFL asking to change the date of the city endorsing convention. The June 24 convention is the Saturday of Twin Cities Pride and the second-to-last day of Ramadan.
Frey, who was not asked to sign the letter, said he saw it as a way to make him look like he opposed changing the convention date. Hodges' campaign pointed out that a Frey staff member at the meeting opposed moving the convention and drew attention for shouting over Contreras.