Last week, Illinois Congressional candidate Benjamin Thomas Wolf made national headlines by declaring himself the "Cannabis Candidate" and circulating a photo of himself smoking a joint in front of the American flag. Wolf's campaign suggested that he was a former FBI agent and Iraq war veteran, two sensational claims that helped bring Wolf into the public spotlight. The increased public visibility also shed light on several skeletons in the candidate's closet, however, including accusations of domestic abuse and exaggerating his former government service.
This week, Katarina Coates, Wolf's ex-girlfriend and campaign intern, accused him of physically and mentally abusing her during their relationship. She also said that the candidate also "doxxed" her, revealing her personal information on social media. "He actually hit me, threw me to the ground, put his foot on my chest," Coates told Politico. "There were times I would ask him, 'Do you ever regret hitting me?' He would say: 'No, but I'm relieved when you put your head down so I don't have to do it again.'"
Coates did not file a police report over the alleged abuse, but did reach out to several college officials tasked with protecting students from domestic violence and sexual assault. Wolf was eventually banned from the campus of DePaul University over allegations of threatening behavior towards students and faculty. Kari Fitzgerald, who dated Wolf four years ago, said that he was not violent with her, but had a volatile personality and demonstrated "abusive, escalating behavior," according to Politico.
In a recent press release, Wolf's campaign identified him as a "former FBI agent," but a spokesperson for the agency told the Chicago Tribune that he was in fact "a non-special agent professional support employee." Wolf recently clarified that he actually attempted to become an FBI agent, but failed the required test. Thomas O'Connor, president of the FBI agents union, said that Wolf's job description as a non-agent support staff member does not gel with how he has been described by his campaign or the press.
Wolf's campaign also suggested that the candidate was a U.S. military veteran, tweeting that he had "served multiple tours" in Africa and Iraq. The candidate explained that he never outright said that he served in the military, and that his comments about being "on tour" were in regards to his service as a diplomatic security special agent for the U.S. State Department. Wolf told Politico that he recognizes that "people in the military get upset when I say I served in Iraq," but that "the military doesn't have a patent on the word 'served.'"
Wolf also denied all accusations of abuse, characterizing them as a politically-motivated attempt to publicly besmirch his character. Wolf said that he never abused Coates, and that he had to file police reports against her because she was harassing him and his family. He did admit to doxxing Coates, but said that he later apologized and deleted all posts containing her personal info.
In answer to the claims that he exaggerated his credentials, Wolf asserted that he never personally stated he was a military veteran or FBI agent. The candidate told the Chicago Tribune that the press was getting "caught up in minor details" regarding these claims, but added that "I don't care."